Bhubaneswar: Undeterred by the BJP’s campaign blitzkrieg in Odisha and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s no-holds-barred attacks on the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday rubbished the PM’s assertion that the saffron party is set to come to power in the state.
Less than 24 hours after an exuberant Modi claimed that the 19-year-old government led by Patnaik is on its way out, the chief minister said that Odisha is poised to get a BJD government for the fifth straight term. Patnaik even invited Modi to attend the oath-taking ceremony in Bhubaneswar after the elections.
“The prime minister said yesterday that he would visit Odisha next after the BJD government is ousted from the state in these polls. With the third phase of polls now over, the BJD has already got a majority in Odisha with the blessings of the people,” said the 72-year-old Patnaik in his trademark broken, heavily-accented Odia at a campaign rally in Balasore. “I humbly invite Modiji to take part as a guest in the BJD government’s oath-taking ceremony.”
In a frontal attack on Modi, Patnaik said, “PM Modi did not come to Odisha when the state suffered massive losses due to cyclones Phailin and Titli. He is visiting the state only during elections and shedding crocodile tears”.
BJD sources said Patnaik was responding to the direct attacks mounted by Modi at a BJP rally in Kendrapara on Tuesday. “Naveen babu, you are on your way out. Odisha’s people are ready to drive you out in a mood of anger. Now it is impossible for you to save yourself… Odisha’s people have decided to put a double engine in Delhi and Bhubaneswar,” Modi had said.
“No matter how much effort the BJD may put, it cannot stop Odisha from getting the double engine of lotus brand,” he had added.
Odisha has a 147-member Assembly and polls for 105 of these seats have already taken place in the first three phases. The rest of the seats will go to polls in the fourth phase on April 29. Polling for the 21 Lok Sabha seats is also being held simultaneously in four phases.
In the last elections in 2014, the BJD won as many as 117 Assembly seats while the Congress bagged 16 and the BJP 10. Of the 21 Lok Sabha seats, all except one – Sundergarh – were won by the regional party. Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oraon of the BJP had won from Sundergarh.