New Delhi: Ending all speculations, expelled BJD leader and former minister Damodar Rout has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at its office in the national capital in presence of top party leaders.
Senior state leaders – Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda, K.V. Singh Deo, Arun Singh, Anurag Thakur, among others – were also present during the ‘mishran parba’.
Welcoming him to the party fold, Pradhan terms Rout’s joining BJP as “achhe din” for Odisha BJP.
Rout, a seven-time MLA, joined the Saffron Party hours after he said he will continue his fight to ensure that Naveen Patnaik (President of BJD) fails to form Government in the State in the upcoming elections.
Speaking to the media, Rout said that the good governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leadership quality of party’s national president Amit Shah forced him to join the BJP.
“After a lot of mental exercise, I joined the BJP today. Late Biju Patnaik had brought me to politics and his sole agenda was to work for the people but things changed after his demise and Naveen Patnaik became the chief minister. He has no love and affection for the people of Odisha. His government is dipped in corruption. It’s the duty of a minister to curb corruption but even after repeated complaints, Naveen didn’t take any action against the corrupt people and continued supporting them,” he alleged.
The 77-year-old leader, who often courted controversies for his statements, was expelled from the ruling BJD in September last year for his alleged anti-party activities.
Rout, who has launched a campaign against the BJD and Patnaik since his removal from the Cabinet, had said both BJP and Congress were in touch with him.
Rout had been a minister in all the four governments headed by Naveen Patnaik and was seen to be close to him before falling out with the BJD Chief.
Speculations were on rife that Rout, who had formed Biju Samata Kranti after being expelled by BJD, is likely to join BJP. The first indication came after he held a discussion with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi last week.
It may be recalled here that former MP and suspended BJD leader Baijayant Panda had joined the Saffron party earlier this month.
“Rout’s joining will strengthen the party in Odisha. His decades with Biju uncle (Biju Patnaik) and long years in his cabinet and also his son’s did not help him against harassment when he exposed corruption at highest levels last year,” Panda said.
Meanwhile, the BJD said it exposed the BJP’s hypocrisy. “How the same party which was earlier staging protests across the State demanding his (Dama Rout) removal from the ministry has suddenly accepted him,” asks BJD leader Sasmit Patra.