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Odisha's Salepur MLA Prakash Chandra Behera Joins BJP After Quitting Congress

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| March 17 , 2019 , 15:21 IST

A day after quitting Congress, Salepur MLA Prakash Behera joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday, ahead of the 2019 elections, with Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan saying his presence will help the party bring about changes in Odisha under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.

“Behera's presence will help us bring about change in Odisha under PM Narendra Modi's leadership,” said Pradhan after the former’s induction into the party. Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Behera said: "I have faith in Modi's leadership. Youths in my constituency impressed with the government's step of surgical strikes."

Speaking on the occasion, BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda said, “Prakash Behera’s joining is a tremendous strength not just for Cuttack & Kendrapara but for coastal Odisha. This will help us bring out the change in #Odisha which we have been talking about.”

In a letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Behera had said that he decided to quit the party after being "ignored" by the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) leadership.

Behera, who was for the first time elected from Salepur segment of Cuttack district in 2014, said he has also sent his resignation letter to OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik.

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Earlier, three MLAs - Nabakishore Das, Jogesh Singh and Krushna Chandra Sagari, had resigned from the Congress. While Das and Singh joined the BJD, Sagaria went to the BSP.

Of the 16 Congress MLAs elected in 2014 elections, four have resigned from the party and one Subal Sahu from Bijepur in Baragarh district had passed away. Polling will be held in Odisha for its 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 Assembly constituencies in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.