Senior BJP leader Basant Kumar Panda was on Thursday elected unopposed as the party’s Odisha unit chief. The firebrand leader from western Odisha who is also the BJP legislature party leader in the State Assembly was formally declared elected to the top post as no one else filed nomination for it. Stating that the 54-year-old legislator was the sole candidate for the post, returning officer Rajkishore Das made a formal announcement about Panda’s election as the new party president for Odisha. With Panda emerging as the sole candidate, there is no need for holding election for the post now, he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Panda, who has been a Sangh Parivar member since long, succeeds Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo. As per the notification for filing of nominations for the post issued by the party yesterday, the filing of papers was held between 9.30 am and 10.30 am. Panda, who represents Nuapada constituency in the State Assembly, had filed three sets of papers signed by 10 proposers.”We will work together to put an end to the dark chapter of BJD’s misrule in the state. Congress will also be countered effectively,” said Panda, who was congratulated by senior party leaders after being elected to the top post.Collective efforts would be made to strengthen the party at the grass-roots level to enable it to come to power in thestate on its own, he said adding BJP would work hard to protect the interests of the poor, farmers and workers. For the supervision of the election, the central party leadership has appointed its national general secretary Saroj Pandey, who was present during the process. Senior BJP leader and in-charge of Odisha, Arun Singh, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and outgoing state BJP chief K V Singhdeo were present there. Pradhan expressed the hope that the party would be strengthened in the state under the leadership of Panda.Senior leader and MLA from Neelagiri Pratap Sarangi said all party leaders and workers would make sincere endeavour to oust Naveen Patnaik government.