A man, who had hosted a lunch for BJP president Amit Shah during his visit to Ganjam district last year, joined the BJD.
Naveen Swain of Hugulapeta, about 12 km from here, had served lunch to 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.
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 Thursday. Local BJD MLA from Gopalpur and former minister Pradeep Panigrahy welcomed them.
"We welcomed 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 Panigrahy.
"I decided to join the BJD because the party keeps its promise," said 36-year-old Swain, who came to limelight after hosting Shah in his dilapidated 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," said Malana.
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 Swain was not a member of the BJP.
"We had selected his house for party president's lunch because Swain was a poor man," Pati said.
(With inputs from agencies.)