Here is what Baijayant Panda brings in for BJP
New Delhi, March 5: Former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) Baijayant Jay Panda joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday.
He was elected from Kendrapara Lok Sabha Constituency of Odisha in 2009 and 2014 on the BJD ticket.
However, the BJD suspended him from the party for alleged anti-party activities on January 24, 2018, and Panda resigned from the BJD on May 28, 2018. The alleged 'anti-party' activities were, in fact, his hobnobbing with the BJP.
The BJP has been eyeing not only to improve its tally on the 21 Lok Sabha seats of Odisha but also the assembly seats, where BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik is the Chief Minister since 2000.
In 2014, despite Narendra Modi wave the BJD had won 20 Lok Sabha seats and the BJP could manage to win only Sundargarh seat.
Like 2014, the assembly poll in the state is likely to be held along with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014 Assembly elections, the BJD had won 117 seats, with a gain of 14 seats from the 2009 tally. The Congress was on the second spot with 16 seats, 11 less than 2009 elections. Though the BJP could win only 10 seats but it added four seats in its 2009 tally.
Senior BJP leaders, particularly Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, have been active in Odisha to strengthen the party.
The BJP President Amit Shah has been focussing on the state right after the 2014 elections and has bettered the party organisation in the state.
But, the fact of the matter is that still, the BJD has an edge over the BJP as far as the organisational structure is concerned.
In 2014, Panda had secured 6,01,574 votes from Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, which was much more than the Congress candidate 's 3,92,466 and the BJP candidate 's 1,18,707 votes.
Kendrapara has been the Patnaik family bastion since 1971.
The seat is being represented by the BJD since 1998 after Navin Patnaik founded the party by naming it after his father Biju Patnaik in 1997 after severing ties with the Janata Dal.
In 1971, the Utkal Congress had won the seat, which was founded by Biju Patnaik after his departure from the Congress over differences with Indira Gandhi.
Biju Patnaik represented Kendrapara in 1977, 1980 and 1984. When Biju was elected to the Odisha assembly then again his protégé Sarat Kumar Deb had won the bye-poll in 1985. The Janata Dal continued to win Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat in 1989, 1991, and 1996 General Elections.
Currently, Kendrapara Lok Sabha Constituency has seven Assembly segments: Salipur, Mahanga, Patkura, Kendrapara, Aul, Rajanagar, and Mahakalapada.
Panda is not considered as a mass leader and it will be interesting to watch to what extent his exit will dent the prospects of the BJD in Kendrapara Lok Sabha Constituency and other parts of the state.
However, Panda 's entry will certainly help the BJP in publicity.
An important point is that Panda's wife Jagi Mangat Panda is currently the managing director of Ortel Communications Ltd, which runs an influential media empire in Odisha.
Jagi manages Odisha TV, a popular news, current affairs, and entertainment channel, which is deep-rooted in the state.
"The edge in the media that the BJD used to get will now be diverted towards the BJP," a state BJP leader told One India on the condition of anonymity.
The BJP has been targeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over misgovernance and corruption, and with Panda's media power the attacks are going to escalate.
The BJP leader admitted that Panda's entry will not solve all the political woes of the BJP overnight, but will certainly lessen them to some extent.