Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Several BJD and Congress leaders ditched their parties for the BJP today joining the saffron party in presence of Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP president Basant Panda and other senior party leaders here at the state headquarters.

Well known Sukinda BJD leader Pradeep Bal Samant alias Tutu Bal, who had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election in 2014, joined BJP along with his supporters.

Congress leaders reached the local party office in grand procession and formally wore the saffron cap as a symbol of BJP. Nayagarh district Congress chief Lala Manoj Ray, who quit his post yesterday, was one among others to shake hands with saffron leaders. Similarly, three other leaders of the grand old party in Keonjhar district-former MLA Dhanurjay Siddhu, PCC secretary (organisation) Prithivraj Kuanar, well known leader of Patana Satyaban Nayak- acquired the primary membership of BJP along with hundreds of supporters.

The BJP considered joining of the new leaders as an asset for the party. "It is matter of pleasure that several leaders have embraced BJP with a particular strategy and focus. It will be a boost for the party ", union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.

BJD took it as a normal practice. "Quitting a party and joining another is a common practice and it will continue till general election. As BJP is trying to poke nose into other parties, some from that party are also being attracted by others", BJD spokesman Pratap Deb said.

The Congress said the leaders are joining other party with a vested interest. “Those, who aspire to be an MP or MLA or a businessman, are joining BJP as they have no option in Congress", Niranjan Patnaik said, accepting that such move will weaken the party.