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'Patnaik Became CM With Our Blessings': Odisha BJP Leader Stirs Row, Retracts After Party Reprimand

'Patnaik Became CM With Our Blessings': Odisha BJP Leader Stirs Row, Retracts After Party Reprimand

Pradipta Nayak, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, later asserted that the BJP continues to be the Opposition party and would continue to raise its voice against the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government’s “bad governance and illegal activities”.

Bhubaneswar: Pradipta Nayak, senior BJP leader and leader of the Opposition in Odisha Assembly, created ripples in the political circles on Wednesday after he said the saffron party helped Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik come to power once again and that the Centre has been generous in giving funds to the state due to the BJP’s “blessings” for Patnaik.

Nayak, however, retracted his comments a few hours later, asserting that the BJP continues to be the Opposition party and would keep raising its voice against the BJD government’s “bad governance and illegal activities”.

“We (BJP) have made Naveen babu the chief minister. We had done it earlier too. He is the chief minister due to our blessings and due to our shoulders,” said Nayak, 55, a four-term BJP legislator from Bhawanipatna Assembly constituency in Kalahandi district.

Speaking to reporters about the BJD’s support to the BJP-led central government over several issues in recent months, Nayak said, “The state government and the Centre, considering their own interests, can take each other’s help when needed.”

“We (BJP) have good relations with Naveen babu. There are no issues between us. The central government has its blessings on Naveen babu. Why else would the Centre be giving so much funds? It is certainly because of the BJP’s continuing blessings for him that more funds are being given compared to other states,” said Nayak.

Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday had said that Odisha had received central assistance of more than Rs 16,000 crore in the first 100 days of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s second term.

Nayak’s remarks, when aired by news channels, created ripples across political circles in Bhubaneswar and New Delhi. The BJD and the BJP fought the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state in April-May as bitter rivals. The BJD retained power in the state by winning more than a two-third majority in the Assembly (112 out of 147 seats). Of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJD won 12 while the BJP bagged eight.

A month after the polls, Patnaik gave the impression of drawing his party close to the BJP by announcing support for its candidate, Ashwini Vaishnav, in the polls for the Rajya Sabha, ensuring his victory. The BJD has since supported the BJP-led central government in the Parliament on a number of issues, including the ban on triple talaq and abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said Nayak was strongly reprimanded by the BJP’s central leaders who asked him to convene a press conference immediately and retract his comments.

“The people of Odisha have given us (BJP) the right to be the Opposition party. Votes for the BJP were cast not to cooperate with Naveen babu. People voted for the BJP in such huge numbers in order to stop his bad governance and his illegal activities,” said Nayak. “We were with him earlier, and we all know his rule.”

Speaking about the central funds for Odisha, Nayak said, “I had said the Prime Minister has given more funds to Odisha. Since the funds for central schemes are being routed through Naveen babu, he has been telling people he is giving those funds. Even people think the funds for schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna are being given by Naveen babu.”

“Today, the BJP stands in opposition to the BJD. We will raise our voices when they (the BJD and the state government) try to act in a wrong way and want to make bad laws. That is the duty of an Opposition party. The BJP will help Naveen babu in cases that will benefit the people of Odisha," Nayak added.

first published:September 11, 2019, 22:13 IST