In a major boost to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ahead of the panchayat elections, two veteran Odia film actors -- Uttam Mohanty and Asit Pati -- joined the ruling party on Friday.
The cine stars formally joined the party in the presence of BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here.
"The two well known Odia film stars, Uttam Mohanty and Asit Pati, have joined the BJD today. This will strengthen the party," said Patnaik.
Uttam Mohanty, the erstwhile superstar of the Odia film industry, has more than 100 Odia and Bengali films to his credit.
"Since my student days I have been a follower of Biju Patnaik and during the days of the Utkal Congress, I was the General Secretary of the student wing. Now I have this opportunity and motivated by Naveen's ideology, I have joined the party. My main objective is to see holistic development of my Mayurbhanj district," said Mohanty.
Mohanty, who hails from Mayurbhanj district, has a great fan following in coastal and southern Odisha.
Uttam Mohanty's wife Aparajita Mohanty, also a lead actor in Odia film industry, had joined the Congress during the 2014 general elections. She had contested for the Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency on a Congress ticket but lost by a huge margin of over 300,000 votes.
Both Uttam and Asit would campaign for BJD candidates in the upcoming panchayat polls scheduled from 13 to 21 February, said sources.
"During the time of Biju Patnaik, I was an activist of the Utkal Congress party and impressed with my work, Biju Babu gave me a job at Paradip port. Since that day I have been indebted to him. I really like the kind of work Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did," said Asit Pati.
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