Know Your Turncoats, Part 12: Phase 4 has 50 turncoats, 54% in BJP-led NDA

A series looking at the defectors contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh
Men with logos of the Congress, the YSRCP and the BJD walk towards the BJP's lotus.

It’s a deluge of defectors. A record 50 turncoats will contest the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections across 96 constituencies on May 13 – the highest number in a single phase so far. And of these, at least 27, or 54 percent, are in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. 

The highest number of these are in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Across 17 seats in Telangana, the NDA has fielded 11 turncoats, and across 25 in Andhra Pradesh, eight of its candidates are defectors. 

A total of 13 defectors have also been fielded by the Congress-led INDIA bloc in this phase, five by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party, and four turncoats are in the fray with tickets from the K Chandrashekar Rao-led BRS. 

Highest in Andhra and Telangana; no BJP turncoats in UP and MP

Notably, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have the most number of turncoats at 20 and 13. Maharashtra has seven. And at least four constituencies –  Maval in Maharashtra and Telangana’s Malkajgiri, Warangal and Chevella – will record a contest between both NDA and INDIA bloc turncoats.  

In Telangana – which is being touted as the BJP’s gateway to the south and where it won four seats in the 2019 polls – only six old party workers have secured a Lok Sabha ticket. Out of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP has fielded turncoats on 11 – seven imported from the BRS and four from the Congress. 

From the INDIA bloc, there are five turncoat candidates in Telangana – all jumped ship from the BRS to the Congress weeks away from the polls. Meanwhile, four of the BRS candidates are also defectors, with two of them joining the party close to the general elections. 

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In Andhra Pradesh – where the BJP is in coalition with Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and Jana Sangh – out of the NDA’s eight defector candidates, five are from the YSRCP. Interestingly, T Krishna Prasad, who quit the BJP after being denied a ticket, is now the NDA’s Bapatla candidate from TDP.

Out of the eight NDA turncoats in Andhra, six jumped ship this year, weeks and months before the polls. Meanwhile, the YSRCP has fielded five defectors, of which four joined the party this year. There are no defector candidates from the INDIA bloc in the state. 

 In the 2019 polls, both the saffron party and the Congress had zero seats in the state.  

In stark contrast to the southern states, the BJP has fielded no turncoats in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in phase four. However, the INDIA bloc has four turncoat candidates in UP – two made the jump from the BJP and two from the BSP.   

While the INDIA alliance has fielded no turncoats in MP. Its Indore candidate, Akshay Bam, withdrew his nomination and switched allegiance to the BJP days ahead of the polls.  

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, there are four defectors as candidates in the NDA and two in the Maha Vikas Aghadi or INDIA bloc alliance. All the defectors belong to the NCP and Shiv Sena factions.

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In Odisha’s four seats, the BJP’s three turncoats jumped ship from the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD. There are no turncoat candidates from the INDIA bloc, while the BJD has fielded BJP’s Odisha unit former vice-president Bhrugu Baxipatra from Berhampur. 

Odisha: A turncoat hot seat; BJD’s royal and commoner turned to BJP 

Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi has nine cases against him, including two under the PMLA Act

In Odisha’s Berhampur, the BJP’s candidate is Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi, a former BJD minister, who has nine cases against him, including two under the PMLA Act. He has also been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act  and the IT Act.   

The 60-year-old, against whom charges were framed in August and November last year, has been accused of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy. An advocate and legal consultant himself, Panigrahi has not been convicted in any of the cases. 

The three-time Gopalpur MLA was expelled from the BJD in December 2020 for “anti-people” activities, ahead of his arrest for allegedly “collecting money from people” on behalf of a man who falsely promised jobs in Tata Company.   

Panigrahi joined the BJP in February this year, after months and months  of speculation and heaping praises on PM Modi. Funnily, at least till a year back, the politician would also praise Patnaik despite his expulsion. But now, he has his guns blazing at the Odisha CM, criticising him for “neglecting” the state.  

Panigrahi, who is also a PhD in conservation of biodiversity has assets worth Rs 75 lakh and liability amounting to Rs 3.40 crore. However, his wife’s assets are worth over Rs 2.5 crore.   

Four days before he joined the BJD, Baxipatra had slammed Naveen Patnaik’s style of governance.

In fray against Panigrahi is BJD candidate Bhrugu Baxipatra, the 46-year-old former Odisha BJP unit’s vice-president who left the saffron party on March 29 allegedly over Panigrahi’s candidacy. Merely four days before this, Baxipatra had accused the BJD of “misleading people” and providing “false data” on the state government’s rural housing scheme. He had also slammed Naveen Patnaik’s style of governance. His X posts are now flooded with the Odisha CM’s pictures, praising and promoting the state government’s schemes and asking to vote for the “Naveen Patnaik government”.   

However, Baxipatra has been careful to not slam the prime minister. After quitting the BJP, he said the party’s Odisha unit is “not following the path shown by Modi”. His X posts of till late March, featuring PM Modi’s pictures, are still intact.         

The defector, who is also an advocate, has seven criminal cases against, under charges of “criminal force”, “entry into the booth”, protesting and corruption. His assets stand at over Rs 1 crore as of April 2024, about Rs 1 crore less than in 2014.   

Members of the Kalahandi royal family have been elected to the Lok Sabha nine times

Meanwhile, Malvika Keshari Deo is the BJP’s candidate from Kalahandi in Odisha. The 43-year-old member of the royal family of Kalahandi is a novice in electoral politics. However, her husband Arka Keshari Deo, won from the Kalahandi constituency as a BJD candidate in 2014. Her late father-in-law Bikram Keshari Deo also won the seat thrice as a BJP candidate. 

Notably, members of the Kalahandi royal family have been elected to the Lok Sabha nine times. 

Deo and her husband joined the BJD in 2013 and remained with the party for the next six years. They quit BJD after they were denied a ticket in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The couple joined the BJP last year, saying they were “inspired by Modi’s work”.  

Deo, who has studied psychology and business management at Delhi University, is an “agriculturist” by occupation, as per her affidavit. She has no criminal case against her, while her assets stand at over Rs 65 lakh, including gold jewellery worth Rs 32 lakh.     

Her husband’s assets recorded a mammoth rise from over Rs 6 crore in 2014 to more than Rs 41 crore in April 2024 – including land worth Rs 40 crore.    

There are two cases against Majhi, both of criminal conspiracy to deter a public servant from discharging duty.

Balabhadra Majhi is the BJP’s candidate from the ST reserved seat of Nabarangpur in Odisha. The 63-year-old civil engineer with the Indian Railways jumped into electoral politics with the BJD in 2014. He won the Lok Sabha polls from Nabarangpur.

The NIT Rourkela graduate joined the BJP in March 2019 after he was denied a Lok Sabha ticket by the BJD. This time, Majhi lost to the BJD’s Ramesh Chandra Majhi in Nabarangpur. He is now one of the four contestants for the seat.

Majhi has two cases against him, both of criminal conspiracy to deter a public servant from discharging duty. In his affidavit, he has listed “social service” as his occupation and earned Rs 17 lakh in the last fiscal year. Interestingly, his assets stand at over Rs 5 crore, including land worth Rs 4.55 crore, about the same as in 2014.     

Research assistance by Sredha TS.

Also see
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 11: UP muscleman, son of ‘Bihar’s Gandhi’, Solapur heavyweight
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 10: Kin of MP who died by suicide, Sanskrit activist
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 9: A total of 12 turncoats in Phase 3, hot seat in MP’s Guna


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