BJP leaders Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan visited Naveen Swain at his home in Odisha (File)
A man, who had hosted a lunch for BJP president Amit Shah during his visit to Odisha's Ganjam district last year, joined the state's ruling party – the Biju Janata Dal or BJD today.
Naveen Swain, from Hugulapeta, about 12 km from Berhampur, had served lunch to Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders, including Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram, during their visit to the village for a party programme on July 4 last year.
Mr Swain, along with BJP sarapanch Pradeep Kumar Malana and several of his supporters, joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in a meeting at the village on Thursday. Local BJD MLA from Gopalpur and former minister Pradeep Panigrahy welcomed them.
"We welcome Naveen Swain and Malana to our party. The party's organisation will be strengthened in the panchayat with their entry into the BJD. We'll carry out more development work in the panchayat," said Mr Panigrahy.
"I decided to join the BJD because the party keeps its promise," said 36-year-old Naveen Swain, who became popular after hosting Amit Shah in his house.
"My house was damaged in cyclone Phailin in October 2013. Top leaders of the BJP had visited the house. They had also expressed concern after seeing the house. But they did nothing for me," he said.
"On the other hand, the BJD had arranged a house under the 'Biju Pucca Ghara', a state government-sponsored scheme," he said.
"The BJD is doing development work. I joined the BJD to expedite the development work in the panchayat," Pradeep Kumar Malana said.
Reacting to the development, Bharatiya Janata Party's state secretary Bibhuti Jena said, "The ruling party is purchasing the poor people to take credit. It's not good for democracy."
BJP district unit president Kanhu Charan Pati said Naveen Swain was not a member of the BJP. "We had selected his house for party president's lunch because Swain was a poor man," Mr Pati said.