Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda on Monday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, nine months after he resigned from the Biju Janata Dal. Panda had resigned from the Lok Sabha after leaving his party.

“Nine months of introspection and widespread consultations with colleagues and public...on auspicious Maha Shivratri I have decided to join BJP and work under the leadership of Narendra Modi-ji to serve Odisha and India to the best of my ability,” Panda tweeted.

Panda joined the BJP in the presence of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and party leaders from Odisha. “This is the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri,” Pradhan said. “This is also a good day for the BJP. There is no need to introduce Panda to you. He has cultivated a unique identity for himself in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over the past 20 years.”

The minister claimed that Panda faced trouble in the Biju Janata Dal because he was inclined towards the ideology of the BJP and Narendra Modi.

Panda said he had thought about joining the BJP 22 years ago, but it is “unfortunate that it took so long to arrive at the decision”. “It is no secret that I admire Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and that of party chief Amit Shah,” he added.

Panda said governance in Odisha has “very sharply deteriorated”. He claimed that crime and corruption have risen dramatically in Odisha in recent years.

Panda added that Modi has shown the capability to take extremely difficult decisions for the sake of the country, whether economic or for protecting the country against terrorism of 30 years. He thanked Modi and Shah, and said he looks forward “to doing my best for Odisha and India”.

Panda’s resignation from the BJD

While resigning from the Biju Janata Dal, Panda had said he was “heartbroken” that no one from the party turned up to pay their last respects to his father, industrialist Bansidhar Panda. Bansidhar Panda died on May 22. This, however, was only the “final straw”, Jay Panda had told The Indian Express in an interview that month.

“Following results of the 2017 [local body] polls, I wrote a newspaper column analysing the party’s strengths and weaknesses,” Panda told the daily. “This was only after the party president called for a public introspection...In May [2017], I was physically attacked in Mahanga by BJD supporters...The police stood like a rock as stones and eggs were thrown at me. My shoulder was injured.”

Panda said when his party suspended him in January 2018, the decision was made by “a kangaroo court headed by a tainted member”, and he was not told of the allegations against him.

“Disrespecting my father [after his death], a close colleague of [Naveen Patnaik’s late father] Biju Patnaik, was the final straw,” he said.

The Odisha leader was recently responding to Twitter users who suggested he either join the BJP or the Congress.

Also read:

For Jay Panda, quitting the BJD was the easy part. His real battle will be to stay relevant

How Jay Panda’s OTV News helped Naveen Patnaik emerge as the undisputed leader of Odisha