Former Odisha Minister Damodar Rout joins BJP ahead of Lok Sabha 2019 polls: Former Odisha Minister Damodar Rout joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday. Rout’s induction into the BJP comes less than a month before the Lok Sabha 2019 elections. He joined the party in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP vice-president Baijayant Panda, party’s state in-charge Arun Singh, BJP legislature party leader K V Singhdeo at party’s headquarters in New Delhi. He was expelled from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) last year for his alleged involvement in anti-party activities.

Dharmendra Pradhan,  who is the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas in the Narendra Modi government, said Rout’s induction into the BJP will strengthen the party in Odisha. In his first statement after joining the BJP, Rout said he will work to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik government in the state.

While welcoming him to the party, Baijayant Panda in a tweet said Rout exposed corruption at the highest levels in the BJD government. There are 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha. In the 2014 general elections, the BJD had swept the state, winning 20 seats.  

The Lok Sabha 2019 elections in Odisha will be held in four phases – April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The Assembly elections in the state will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha 2019 polls. The counting of votes will be on May 23.

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