Kujang: After former BJD leader Baijayant Panda joined BJP recently, speculation is rife that Damodar Rout, another expelled leader from BJD, might join the saffron wagon soon.
Following Rout’s New Delhi visit Saturday, speculation has been rife in Paradip and Balikuda-Ersama assembly constituencies in Jagatsinghpur district that the former BJD leader is set to join BJP soon.
However, after returning from New Delhi in the evening, Dama told reporters, “BJP has given a proposal but I am yet to take any decision on accepting it. Yes, I will take the decision in a day or two after consulting my followers.”
On the other hand, the new development has evoked a mixed response among BJP leaders and workers.
While some frontline leaders and workers are of the opinion that they will accept the Centre’s decision on Dama, some others felt that the leader’s entry into the party will have an opposite impact.
The leaders said they could never accept Dama because he had always been a vociferous opponent of BJP. He caused troubles for BJP leaders and workers in the past, they pointed out.
Dama was the winner from the old Ersama assembly constituency. Later, the Ersama constituency was divided into two assembly segments. One part became Paradip constituency and the other Balikuda-Ersama.
After this division, Dama has won elections from Paradip and became its MLA. Notably, he has a good base in both constituencies.
While his birth place is at Ersama, his work place is Paradip. After his expulsion from BJD, he had proved his strength by organising separate meetings at Ersama and Kujang of Paradip constituency.
At that time, it was speculated that he would float his own party, taking all anti-BJD leaders.
Meanwhile, Baijayant has joined BJP and political observers are of the view that Dama would be the next to join the party, helping create a new equation in Jagatsinghpur district.
In this context, Congress and BJD are viewing Dama’s New Delhi visit with curiosity while BJP is waiting for his final decision.
State Kisan Morcha vice president and Balikuda-Ersama leader Nrusingha Sahoo said, “Damababu might get a ticket from Paradip. His entry into BJP party will no way hamper the party as it is in a good position.”
Echoing the sentiments of Sahoo, another BJP leader Raghunandan Das said he would welcome Dama to the party.
District Yuva Morcha President and an aspirant for BJP ticket from Paradip Sampad Swain said he would accept whatever decision the party takes on Dama.
But, state action committee member and another prominent youth BJD leader Gatikrushna Satpathy said, “That the way Damababu treated the BJP workers in past can never be forgotten. The workers will take a decision on supporting Dama.”
If Dama joins BJP, the possibility is high that he might contest the elections from Balikuda-Ersama constituency.