02 October, Sambalpur (Odisha)
Former BJD MLA Ashok Panigrahi and hundreds of his supporters today joined the BJP at a special function called “Mishran Parva” ( Joining Festival) attended by two Union Ministers and senior leaders of Odisha unit of the party.
Panigrahi’s joining the BJP assumed political significance as the Bijepur Assembly seat held by Congress MLA Subal Sahu, will go the the by poll following his demise. The ruling BJD has roped in Rita Sahu, the widow of the deceased Congress MLA into the party fold and announced her candidature for the Bijepur by poll, which is yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
With the induction of Panigrahi into the BJP fold and Ms Rita Sahu in the BJD, the by election to the Bijepur Assembly seat will be a litmus test for both the ruling BJD and the Opposition BJP for the 2019 Assembly election in the state. Both the parties claimed that they will win the Bijepur Assembly seat. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had already announced to campaign for the party candidate.
Panigrahi joined the BJP in presence BJP Union petroleum and Naturalk Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan ,Union Tribal Welafre Minister Jual Oram, BJP central leader and in charge of Odisha affiars Arun Singh, state president Basant Panda and legislative party leader K V Singhdeo Party sources claimed that Pradeep Purohit and thousands of his supporters today joined the BJP.
Addressing the vast gathering Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the “Mission 120 for 2019 general election of his party will begin from Bijepur. He appealed to the people of the constituency to use their franchise in such a way that a non functioning and incapable BJD government in the state ruling the state for last 17 years will get the lesson from Bijepur.
However, BJP District unit president Narayan Sahu and his supporters were absent in the meeting . Mr Sahu has come out openly opposing the candidature of Panigrahi for the Bijepur assembly seat although the party has not officially announced the candidate for the by election to the seat.