Bhubaneswar: Former MP and senior Congress leader Pradeep Kumar Majhi is likely to join the ruling Biju Janata Dal soon, sources close to him said on Thursday.
Forty-five-year-old Majhi, who is currently serving as vice-president, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, has been evasive about his decision to embrace the Naveen Patnaik-led party, but sources said the talks are over and it is just a matter of time before he is formally inducted into the regional party. “He will join in October, but the date and other modalities need to be finalized,” a source close to Majhi said.
“There cannot be smoke without fire,” Majhi quipped, when asked, neither confirming nor denying the possibility. “I will consider if I get an offer. There is not much ideological difference in the two parties,” he told Odisha Bytes.
Majhi, who represented Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat from 2009 to 2014, is seen as a prominent tribal leader of Congress in Odisha and as a strong youth leader. Though he lost the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary polls from Nabarangpur to Balabhadra Majhi (BJD) and Ramesh Majhi (2019), Majhi is known to have considerable support in Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts.
The possibility of his quitting the Hand party is a pointer towards the Congress leadership’s lack of vision and seeming disinterest to set the house in order. “Youth leaders are not seeing their future in the Congress and BJD is tapping leaders with potential to strengthen itself,” said a senior Congress leader preferring anonymity. “Majhi’s departure will be a setback to the Congress in Odisha,” the leader added.
Majhi, a former Youth Congress president and ex-president of Nabarangpur Zilla Parishad, can boost BJD’s chances in the forthcoming panchayat elections slated in February 2022. “He will be a prize catch for us,” pointed out a BJD leader. “Our presence in Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts will be further consolidated,” the leader added.
Incidentally, Majhi’s father Bhagaban Majhi was a leader of erstwhile Janata Dal (JD) and worked with former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik after whom BJD is named. BJD was founded in December 1997 months after Biju Patnaik died. Bhagaban had served as a member of Rajya Sabha and also as JD’s Nabarangpur district president.
In the run-up to the 2019 elections, then working president of OPCC Nabakishore Das had quit Congress and entered the BJD. Post elections, CM Naveen Patnaik inducted him in his cabinet as health minister. A number of senior Congress leaders, including former Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh and former MLA Anup Sai (currently in jail in a murder case), have joined BJD in recent years, weakening the grand old party.