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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Already finding it difficult to recuperate from the sudden blow Jay Panda gave it by joining the saffron party, the BJD in the State seems to have again suffered a setback as one of its former senior leaders today party-hopped and joined the BJP.

Babu Singh, the former BJD Bhubaneswar district unit working president, who recently quit the party, joined BJP today along with hundreds of his supporters in presence of Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda, Basant Panda, KV Singh Deo and other senior leaders.

With senior MLA Damodar Rout and former MP Kharabela Swain also hinting at joining hands with BJP to end corruption, somehow, the BJD now seems to be unprepared to tackle the new strategy of the saffron party. Sources revealed that BJP is now eyeing several leaders from coastal and Western Odisha, even as three from the coastal and two BJD political heavyweights from the West are already in the line-up to join it, said sources.

Recently, with Jharsuguda MLA and former Congress leader Naba Das joining BJD, the local BJD leader Kishore Mohanty seemed discontented and it is believed he too might join hands with BJP ahead of the polls.

All these speculations started doing rounds after Odisha BJP in-charge Arun Singh stated that many BJD leaders are willing to join the BJP as they feel BJD is losing ground in Odisha. "There are so many leaders who want to unite with the BJP and work under the leadership of Modi ji. BJD will get jitters in the days to come."

However, Kishore Mohanty denied the reports claiming that he will remain associated with the BJD, even if he doesn't get a ticket in the impending polls.

On being asked whether senior leaders Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray will rejoin the BJP, Arun Singh said that they might have resigned but are still standing strong with the party.

Asked about chances of PM Modi contesting from Puri Lok Sabha constituency, Singh said, "Party's parliamentary board will take a decision in this regard. The party will release its list of candidates for Elections 2019 within a week."

He further predicted that BJD will be wiped out in the upcoming polls. "There's huge excitement in Odisha after Baijayant 'Jay' Panda joined the BJP. BJD's fall has begun and BJP will form government in the State," said Singh.

Reacting to Singh, BJD MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo said as the saffron party has less number of leaders of significance, it is inviting leaders from other parties. “BJD is in a strong position and will get majority in the upcoming polls,” he emphatically said.

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