In a major setback for the Congress in Odisha ahead of the elections, state working president Naba Kisore Das resigned from the party on Wednesday.'
He is likely to join the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on January 24, a day before the scheduled visit of Gandhi.
In a letter written to Rahul Gandhi, he said, "The people and voters of my area want that I should contest the next election from BJD."
Das, a sitting MLA from Jharsuguda Assembly constituency, resigned from the primary membership of the party and also as the working president.
"The people and voters of my area want that I contest the next election from BJD as they want our area to develop and that I should join hands with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik," he wrote in his letter.
"I have decided to resign from Indian National Congress with Primary Membership and from the post of Working President, P.C.C., Odisha. I apologize for this resignation, as done so for the moto i.e. development first," he further wrote.
He said he will place all valuable suggestions of the people before the CM during his visit to Jharsuguda where Patnaik will inaugurate a cancer hospital on January 24.
Das had defeated BJD candidate and former Assembly Speaker Kishore Kumar Mohanty twice in the Jharsuguda constituency in the 2009 and 2014 elections.