Can Jay Panda’s entry boost BJP’s electoral fortunes in Odisha?

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Published: March 4, 2019 11:17:50 PM

Dash said BJP did not have a suitable candidate to field from Kendrapada constituency which is a traditional stronghold of the ruling BJD.

Political commentator Rajesh Mahapatra says Panda’s entry will not have much of an impact on state politics in the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections which will be conducted together.

Former Lok Sabha member Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda’s decision to join the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections is being seen as a shot in the arm for the party. However, political analysts do not see him changing the ground-level politics in the state where chief minister Naveen Patnaik is seeking a fifth term.

Panda, who owns an influential media empire in the state, had been a leading parliamentarian of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal before he fell out with its leadership. In the 2014 general elections, Panda won won from Kendrapara on a BJD ticket. He was suspended in January last over for indulging in anti-party activities. He resigned from BJD later in 2018, after he had serious difference with Odisha chief minister Patnaik.

The rumours of Jay Panda’s intention to join the BJP has been in the air for more than a year. A resourceful person and articulate speaker, Panda will be more useful for the BJP in Delhi, say political analysts. He was rumoured to get a ministerial birth when the Union cabinet was expanded in September 2016.

“At that time things could not materialise as it meant Panda resigning from his Lok Sabha seat and BJP bringing him to the Rajya Sabha to make him a minister,” Priya Ranjan Dash, former journalist and political commentator, told Financial Express Online.

Dash said BJP did not have a suitable candidate to field from Kendrapada constituency which is a traditional stronghold of the ruling BJD. In that sense the party now has an option, he said.

Political commentator Rajesh Mahapatra says Panda’s entry will not have much of an impact on state politics in the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections which will be conducted together.

“Baijayant Panda has some influence in five Lok Sabha seats including Dhenkanal, Bargarh and Sundargarh,” he said. However, if the BJP chooses to project him as the chief ministerial candidate, then it can help the party to improve its tally.

“As we speak today, Naveen Patnaik is on his way to win a fifth term for himself. However the number of seats will decline by 10-20 seats,” Mahapatra said, adding that it will leave nearly 50 seats for the two opposition parties Congress and BJP in a triangular contest and both of them are in a close fight to pick these seats.

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