Former finance minister Ramakrushna Patnaik, his wife and former MP from Aska Kumudini Patnaik and their daughter Anita Subhadarshani on Wednesday joined the BJP in the presence of former minister and senior BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan at the party office here.
Ramakrushna, who resigned from the Congress along with his wife on February 23, told reporters that he joined the BJP as he was attracted to the charisma of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“Modi has caught the imagination of the people, especially the young mass, for his clean image and fight against corruption. The youths of the country want Modi as the next prime minister,” Ramakrushna said.
Blaming the Congress leadership for the rapid decline of the party, Ramakrushna said senior leaders are being ignored and all important decisions are taken by a coterie.
There is no internal democracy and leaders who are feeling suffocated are deserting the Congress. A six-time legislator from Kodala Assembly constituency in Ganjam district, Ramakrushna had handled important portfolios in his long stint as minister.
Ramakrushna was first elected to the fifth Assembly in 1971 on Utkal Congress ticket and he was made a minister. He was a Cabinet minister under Biju Patnaik from 1990 to 1995, before he joined the Naveen ministry in 2000.
The Patnaik couple quit the Congress when they came to know that the party is planning to field the son of a former MP from the Aska parliamentary seat for which Kumudini was aspiring after a party ticket.
In a separate development, Maharaja of erstwhile princely state of Kalahandi Udit Pratap Deo and his wife Padma Manjari Devi also joined the BJP on Wednesday.
Udit, elder brother of Bikram Keshari Deo, was elected to the Assembly once in 1974 on Swatantra Party ticket from Junagarh constituency.
B K Deo was elected thrice from Junagarh seat, first on Janata Party ticket in 1985 and the next two elections as BJP candidate. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha thrice in a row on BJP ticket.
The Kalahandi Maharaja joined the BJP a week after the ruling BJD named his nephew, Arka Keshari Deo, son of Bikram Keshari, as the party candidate for the parliamentary seat. With Udit Pratap Deo joining the BJP, the party’s position will be stronger in the district, political observers said.