Odisha Assembly Elections: Bijoy Mohapatra returns to BJP fold (File Photo)
Veteran leader Bijoy Mohapatra, who had resigned from the BJP four months ago, returned to the saffron party on Thursday. The 68-year-old stalwart said his move to come back to the BJP followed a detailed discussion with the party’s national vice-president Baijayant Panda and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh, who met Mohapatra at his residence in Bhubaneswar.
Mohapatra, who had resigned from the party on November 30 last year, said he also had telephonic conversation with other senior leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah. The development comes ahead of the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha.
"As elections are approaching, we have decided to intensify our campaign and fight unitedly to bring about a change in Odisha by defeating the BJD and to build a new India," Mohapatra said.
Asked whether he would contest the polls, Mohapatra said the the party will take a decision on the matter. "The priority at present is to further strengthen the organisation to oust the BJD from power in the state," he said.
Expressing happiness over Mohapatra staging a comeback to the BJP, Arun Singh said the aim of the party was to “remove” the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha and ensure another term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre.
Describing Mohapatra as a "seasoned politician", Baijayant Panda said the senior leader’s re-entry into the BJP fold would boost the saffron party’s fight against the BJD in Odisha.
Mohapatra along with another BJP national executive member and former Union minister Dilip Ray had resigned from the BJP on November 30 last claiming that they had been "sidelined" within the party. Though Ray is yet to join any party, he had met BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently.
The resignation of the two leaders from the BJP had sparked speculation that they might stage a comeback to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), of which both were founding members. While Mohapatra was expelled from the BJD in 2000, Roy was thrown out from the ruling party two years later.
In the 2014 elections, Mohapatra had contested from Mahakalapada Assembly seat in Kendrapara district on a BJP ticket and lost to BJDs Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak. The simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha are scheduled to be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.