Who is your CM candidate for Odisha: Patnaik asks BJP

Naveen Patnaik ranks among a handful of regional satraps to withstand the Modi wave.

Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Saturday asked the BJP to name its chief ministerial candidate for the state.

“The people of Odisha want to know who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, from where s/he is contesting the elections,” Patnaik said, addressing an election meeting at Daspalla under Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency, which is going to polls in the second phase on April 18.

Alleging that the BJP was afraid of announcing the name of its leader in Odisha, he also took a dig at the saffron party’s “double engine” slogan.

Patnaik was referring to BJP leaders’ frequent call to the people of Odisha to ensure a “double engine” government (the government in Odisha as well as in Delhi) for better development of the state.

“That Delhi engine did not come to the state when people were encountering calamities like cyclone and floods. Though the Delhi engine came after calamities, it went to Andhra Pradesh and not to Odisha,” the CM said.

BJP neglected Odisha, says Patnaik

Earlier, Patnaik had alleged that the BJP-led NDA government did not provide adequate assistance to cyclone-hit Odisha, even as it helped neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. “This Delhi engine will leave the state after the elections. Where is BJP’s Odisha engine?” he asked. “The four and half crore of people in Odisha are my family, and I will serve them till the last breath,” Patnaik said.

Addressing another election rally in Aska in Ganjam district, he said the people of the locality will create a history this time by electing women self-help group (WSHG) member Pramila Bisoi to the Lok Sabha.

Apart from fielding a Women’s Self Help Group (WSHG) member as its candidate for the Aska Lok Sabha seat, BJD also has four other women candidates contesting from different assembly segments in the same Parliamentary constituency. “You (the people of Aska) are going to create a history by electing a WSHG member to the Lok Sabha and send four women to the state assembly,” Patnaik said.

Alleging that both the opposition BJP and the Congress have fielded “criminal elements” as candidates in Ganjam district, the chief minister said he will not allow breach of peace in the region.

BJP says ‘people are the leaders of Odisha’

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters that the people of Odisha are the leaders of BJP in the state. “All of them are chief ministerial candidates,” he said.

BJP state vice-president Samir Mohanty said: “I am happy that Naveen Babu wants to know about the BJP’s CM candidate after the first phase of polling. He has got an indication that the BJP is all set to form government in the state.”

The second phase of polling will be held on April 18 in Bargarh, Sundargarh, Bolangir, Kandhamal and Aska Lok Sabha segments, along with 35 assembly constituencies under their jurisdictions.