Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier this week, was on Friday appointed its national vice president and spokesperson, ANI reported.

Party chief Amit Shah made the appointment, which will be effective immediately, Odisha TV reported.

Panda joined the BJP on March 4, nine months after he resigned from the Biju Janata Dal. “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 had tweeted.

In January last year, BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had suspended Panda from the party on disciplinary grounds. The BJD had claimed that Panda was involved in anti-party activity, an allegation denied by the former MP.

Panda had earlier said that he had thought about joining the BJP 22 years ago, but it is “unfortunate that it took so long to arrive at the decision”. Panda said that he admired the leadership shown by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah.