In Odisha, the ruling BJD had won 20 parliament seats in 2014, while the BJP bagged just one seat.
Putting to rest all speculations, former Odisha minister Damodar Rout on Thursday joined Bharatiya Janata Party at BJP headquarters in Delhi. Rout was expelled from BJD in September last year for alleged anti-party activities.
Welcoming Rout into the fold, BJP vice-president Baijayant Jay Panda, who himself had joined the party earlier this month, tweeted, “Welcome to @BJP4India Dr. Damodar Rout! Your decades with Biju uncle & long yrs in his cabinet & also his son’s, did not aid you agnst harrassment when you exposed corruption at highest levels last yr & were expelled from BJD. Look fwd to working together for Odisha’s revival.”
Rout, a seven-time MLA, had earlier on Thursday resolved to continue his fight to ensure that Naveen Patnaik fails to form the government in Odisha after Lok Sabha elections 2019. He launched a campaign against the ruling BJD and had indicated that he was in touch with senior BJP leaders. He met with Pradhan in Delhi last week, fueling speculations of him joining the BJP camp soon.
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Anurag Thakur and other BJP leaders were present as Rout joined the saffron party camp.
Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats. Both the Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly election will be held simultaneously in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The counting of votes for all the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies will be held on May 23.
In Odisha, the ruling BJD had won 20 parliament seats in 2014, while the BJP bagged just one seat. The Congress drew a blank.