Bhubaneswar: In a significant development, Ashwini Baishnab, a former bureaucrat, who was nominated by BJP for Rajya Sabha by-poll from Odisha today, joined the party formally at State headquarters in presence of BJP’S Odisha president Basant Panda, vice-president Sameer Mohanty and spokesperson Golak Mohapatra.
Baishnab’s joining came a day after the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) announced its support to the former IAS officer in the Rajya Sabha poll.
Aswini’s victory is virtually certain now after the BJD backing.
Speaking to media after joining BJP, Aswini said, “I would like to thank the BJP and its leadership for giving me an opportunity to serve Odisha. Whatever possible on my part for the development of Odisha, I will do.”
The development indicates growing warm vibes between the two parties after the BJP ran a strong campaign against the BJD in the recent Lok Sabha and assembly polls, emerging as the main challenger to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s party.
Minutes later, Patnaik told reporters in the state that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had spoken to him and his party will back Baishnab.
BJD president Naveen Patnaik said yesterday “The Prime Minister spoke to me as did the Home Minister. We (BJD) will support the candidature of Ashwini Baishnab, who was the private secretary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was the Prime Minister,” said Patnaik.
BJD IT Cell Chairman Amar Patnaik and spokesperson Sasmit Patra are the party’s other two nominees for the Upper House.
With 112 members in the 146-seat state assembly, the BJD was in a position to win the bypolls to all three seats. The BJP has 23 seats.
Three seats had fallen vacant after Achyuta Samanta, Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik were elected to Lok Sabha and Assembly in the recently held elections.
While Samanta was elected from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, Deb and Patnaik were elected from Aul and Khandapada Assembly segments.