Elections 2019: Will Jay Panda be a game-changer for BJP in Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: After roping in senior IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi a few months back, the Bharatiya Janata Party has now welcomed former Kendrapara MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda into its fold. The development has sparked a lot of political speculations over the impact that the four-time parliamentarian might have on the poll prospects of the saffron party.

After joining the saffron party on March 4, Jay Panda’s show of strength, with a sea of supporters giving him a rousing welcome on his arrival in Bhubaneswar yesterday, was followed by his stinging attack on the ruling-BJD.

It is believed that Panda who has been a vehement critic of the BJD over several issues like chit-fund scam, crime against women, unemployment, deteriorating educational system and healthcare infrastructure, has a very good know-how about the BJD’s internal political affairs and his ideas might come handy for the saffron party. Be it his achievements as a two-time Lok Sabha MP from Kendrapara constituency and also two-time Rajya Sabha member or through his popularity among public with people-connect programmes like Heijau, Panda has proved himself as a success in the political battlefield.

BJP’s leadership are optimistic that Panda will be a game-changer for their Mission 120+ seats in Odisha.

Welcoming Jay Panda to BJP, Union Minister Jual Oram said, “We are confident that joining of Panda and addition of his support base in the entire State will surely strengthen BJP and help it form the government.”

While pundits are of the view that his inclusion in BJP flank might strengthen the weak party organisation in coastal belts of the State, the BJD continues to remain adamant in its stance that Panda’s influence will have no impact on its poll prospects.

BJD leader Pratap Deb said, “Jay Panda’s joining in BJP was a foregone conclusion. But since he has joined the party now, it remains to be seen as to what role he is assigned, but I don’t think it will have any impact.”

However, senior journalist and political expert, Rajaram Satpathy said Panda’s face value, influence and his image is still very influential, so it will surely help the saffron party.