Bhubaneswar: Is Jay Panda, the former BJD Lok Sabha MP is joining Congress? Yes, that is what it appears from his recent rhetorics.

Panda, while speaking to media persons, recently, said that his decisions are at final stages and he is soon going to announce his future course of action in politics.

Eversince Panda has resigned from the BJD, speculations were rife that he is joining BJP. Given the closeness Panda enjoys with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was obvious on the part of the political predictors that he would go the saffron way. But, Panda kept everybody guessing for the last seven months.

However, Panda’s recent statement gives a clear indication that he is going to join Congress.

The industrialist turned politician said that he is willing to join hands with anybody ‘committed to tackling the severe problems that Odisha now faces’. “I am willing to join hands with anybody who is committed to not just speaking about the sharp rise of crime and corruption in Odisha but willing to act on it.”

Panda had recently spoken in many words that the Odisha BJP is raising the issues against the Naveen Patnaik government, but it is not acting on it. Obviously, he was meaning Dharmendra Pradhan, the union petroleum minister who is virtually leading the party in the state.

Panda, who was confident of BJP’s returning the power at the Centre in 2019 when he quit the BJD. But, now his opinion has changed with the recent political developments, particularly the elections results of three Hindi heartland states, in the country.

Jaya told the Deccan Herald newspaper recently: “I think the 2019 election has now again become a contest. A year ago, it was considered a no contest and expected that the NDA would be getting a second term. But given the developments in the last year, particularly last few months and State Election results, it shows that the ground realities may have changed. The Congress has become much more energetic, the regional parties are getting active and trying to come together. So, it is definitely a contest. It is no longer to be taken for granted.”

Why Panda changes his mind?

Panda found very little space in BJP. Notwithstanding that he has the backing of the Prime Minister, but in Odisha the BJP party is under the firm control of the union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan. So, he has to depend on the mercy of Pradhan for his rehabilitation in the party. Then there is deficit of trust between them.

Why Congress?

Panda sees that Congress sail is catching the wind very fast. After surprise victories in three Hindi heartland victory, the party’s morale has started moving northward.

In Odisha, Congress as a party can not be discarded. It has shown the resilience and the possibility of bouncing back to power. In 1980 and in 1995, the party came back to power in the state. Not only that in 2009, Congress bagged 6 out of 21 seats in Lok Sabha elections. Even in 2014, when there was a strong Modi wave, the Party got 16 in the Assembly elections pushing the BJP to the third position with 10 seats.

What must be making Congress attractive to Panda is the voting trend of Kendrapada, his MP constitutency. In 2014, Congress has won in three of the seven segments of the Kendrapada parliamentary constituency. In Kendrapada, the Congress candidate Ganeswar Behera had lost only by 5000 votes.

Panda sees that being a Congress candidate, his winning prospects are becoming bright. Victory of four party candidates as MLA would push the vote numbers of the MP candidate eventually.

Jay has good rapport in Congress party too. So, getting a ticket in Congress would not be a difficult for him. Moreover, he would have enough space to breathe in Congress.