Biju Janata Dal MP Jay Panda, who was sacked from the post of party spokesperson on Friday, said on Saturday that he was never told why he was dismissed. He, however, told ANI that he would respect the decision if it had been taken by his party president. “If my removal as spokesperson will be good and beneficial for the party then I certainly welcome it,” Panda added.

Panda also clarified that he was not joining any other party. There were rumours that the MP may join the Bharatiya Janata Party. “I am a founding member of my party and I want to see it strengthen further,” he told ANI.

Panda’s removal came after he criticised the party and had a spat with party colleague Tathagat Satpathy on Twitter. Satpathy had alleged that a party MP would cross over to the BJP, though he did not name anyone in particular. In March, Panda had written about a “brewing crisis” in the BJD in a newspaper column. He was then accused by Satpathy of working for the BJP. Panda, however, had defended himself by saying that he was only following the chief minister’s instructions for the party to introspect and improve.

Panda’s removal comes at a time when the BJP is trying to spread its wings in the state. The saffron party in April had held its two-day national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar. The meet was earlier slated to be held in Lucknow to celebrate the party’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh. But BJP National President Amit Shah is believed to have moved the convention to Bhubaneswar himself, with his focus on the 2019 Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly elections. The party is also hoping to cash on the anti-incumbency wave. The BJD has been in power in the state since 2000.