Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Putting all speculations to rest, senior BJP leader Ashok Panigrahi today resigned from primary membership of the party just few days before the crucial Bijepur bypoll.

Panigrahi, who lost the election after being nominated as the saffron party's candidate for Bijepur bypoll in 2018, reiterated that he was ignored within the party and not considered as a candidate for the ensuing by-election to the seat.

It may be noted that after Bijepur bypoll loss, Panigrahi was also denied ticket for the 2019 general election as the party had nominated Sanath Gartia for the election to Bijepur Assembly constituency.

"I was neglected by the party leaders and so I decided to quit the party after taking suggestion from my supporters," said Panigrahi adding that those who are spear heading the organisational works within the party are responsible for it.

Responding to a question on whether he will join BJD, the BJP leader refuted any such possibilities and said, "I am not in contact with BJD and haven't received any such offer."

Panigrahi said that he will decide on further course of action after consulting party workers and his supporters. But he did not rule out going against the saffron party in coming days. "If party supporters want, we will campaign against BJP," he added.

A few days ago, Panigrahi had dismissed speculations of him snapping ties with the saffron party and termed the media reports as false and mere rumours.

BJP has said that Panigrahi's resignation will not affect the party. "He (Ashok Panigrahi) quit BJP after being mired in conspiracy by BJD but his resignation will have no impact. Instead several senior leaders & workers of party who were unhappy after his nomination in last Bijepur bypoll will return to party fold," said BJP leader Pradeep Purohit.

Responding to the allegations, BJD General Secretary Sanjay Das Burma said, "The allegations of BJD conspiring to remove Panigrahi from BJP is baseless. He was unhappy with the national party which is why he decided to resign."

Meanwhile, BJP, BJD and Congress leaders are leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters of Bijepur assembly constituency.

"We are getting good response from the residents of different villages of Bijepur and they want BJP to serve them," said BJP leader Anu Choudhury.

BJD leader and Odisha Women and Child Welfare Minister Tukuni Sahu said, "With Rita Sahu as our candidate, we will definitely win the Bijepur constituency with huge margin."

Similarly, Congress leader Mohammed Moquim said that the party will strengthen its position by winning Bijepur seat.