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Five-time Odisha MLA Arabinda Dhali joins BJP day after quitting BJD

Bhubaneswar: Five-time Odisha MLA Arabinda Dhali on Sunday joined the BJP, a day after resigning from the ruling BJD.

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Dhali went to the BJP office in Bhubaneswar along with his supporters in a procession, and formally joined the party in the presence of its state president Manmohan Samal and MP Aparajita Sarangi, among others.

Former MLA Mukunda Sodi, who also resigned from the BJD, joined the BJP along with Dhali.

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Addressing the press, Dhali alleged that there was no democracy within the BJD and senior leaders were being neglected.

“After feeling suffocated, I left the BJD and joined the BJP, which has internal democracy,” he said.

Dhali, the MLA of Jaydev in Khorda district, claimed that the BJP will form the next government in the state by winning more than 100 of the assembly’s 147 seats.

He was first elected to the assembly from the Malkangiri seat in a by-election in 1992 on a BJP ticket. He retained the seat for two more terms.

He then joined the BJD, and was elected to the assembly from Jayadev in 2009. He also won the 2019 election from the seat.

A law graduate, he served as a minister in the BJD-BJP coalition government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

He held portfolios such as Cooperation (2000-2004), and Textiles and Handloom (2000-2002), besides Commerce and Transport (2002-2004).

The BJD claimed that Dhali joining the BJP will have no impact on it.

“Ahead of elections, it is normal for many political leaders to switch from one party to another. The leaders, whose winning chances are very low and are aware that the party is not going to give them nominations, are leaving the BJD,” senior BJD leader Raj Kishore Das said.

Recently, expelled BJD MLAs Pradeep Panigrahy and Prashant Jagdev also joined the BJP. Former Minister Debasis Nayak of the BJD also switched sides. Another expelled BJD leader Rajendra Das, a former MLA, is also likely to join the BJP soon.

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