Two national executive members Rourkela MLA and former Union minister Dilip Ray and Bijoy Mohapatra former Odisha Minister quit the BJP on Friday, dealing a blow to it in the state with just six months to the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
Ray, who won the Rourkela seat with a handsome margin also resigned as an MLA. Tweeting a three-page letter, he explained he was quitting over the Centre’s failure to deliver on the promises for a second bridge over the Brahmani River and upgrading of the city hospital to a super speciality medical college — two emotive issues that he had campaigned on in 2014 and consistently lobbied for since. Ray said he was taking the “moral responsibility” for his party, in power at the Centre, letting down the people of Rourkela.
There was a mixed reaction from the BJP on the exit of the two stalwarts, While Samir Mohanty Vice President of BJP odisha unit have claimed that there will be no impact on the party after the exit of the two leaders but the Union Minister & MP from Sunargarh Jual Oram have other opinions. Bijoy Mohapatra & Dilip Ray might be contemplating to leave party for political reasons though IGH work has begun & Brahmani issue is delayed because of state govt; it’s their personal choice to stay or leave but it will be a loss for BJP if they quit said Jual Oram a days before the two leaders quit. Dillip Ray also clarified on Friday that he had no grudge against Union minister for tribal affairs Jual Oram.
Mohaptra is a strong force in coastal Odisha from where former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda and former minister and chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s newest critic, Damodar Rout, are expected to mount their challenge to the BJD. A bitter and dramatic fallout 18 years ago ensured that Mohapatra and Patnaik never came face-to-face until in January this year when Mohapatra was invited to a gala event marking the birth centenary of Biju Patnaik. Addressing a press conference on behalf of Ray and himself, Mohapatra said they would announce their future course of action after a fortnight.
Senior leader Damodar Rout has urged Bijoy Mohapatra & Dilip Ray, who recently resigned from BJP, to join his new party ‘Biju Samatakranti Dal.’
Ray and Mohapatra, whose careers were built in the shadow of the late Biju Patnaik, are rumoured to be returning to the Biju Janata Dal where they were founder-members, but neither the two nor the BJD would comment on this. Sources say both the leaders will join the ruling Biju Janata Dal on the 21st foundation day on December 26.