Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said subsidy was being pilfered in Orissa. Photograph: (Reuters)
The BJP seems to have entered into campaign mode in Odisha where assembly elections are still two years away
After pulling a straight win in the local polls in Odisha, the BJP seems to have entered into campaign mode in the state where assembly polls are still two years away.
Not only is the National Executive being organised in Bhubaneswar in April, indications are being given that the "Look East" policy will be part of BJP’s agenda in Odisha.
Such is the importance of this state that Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan openly accused serving chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik of subsidy mismanagement.
"There is no kerosene shortage in Odisha. Why is my name and Naveen Patnaik’s name still in the subsidy list? Subsidy is being pilfered in Odisha and the state government has not been able to contain it. Should Naveen Patnaik get kerosene out of PDS?," said Dharmendra Pradhan.
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will thank the people of Odisha for the win they gave to BJP in the local polls. The minister also categorically accused the Odisha government of mismanagement. "There is mistrust and distrust of Naveen Patnaik’s government and we will continue to focus on building our organisation in every nook and corner of the state," said Mr Pradhan.
When this question was posed to the Chief Whip of the BJD, Tathagat Sathpathy, he said, "These accusations are false and we have seen Odisha progress right in front of our eyes. Evidence of subsidy mismanagement must be given first before making a statement like this." Tathagath maintains that kerosene shortage exists in tribal areas of Odisha and that Dharmendra Pradhan instead of charging the chief minister must look into the cause of kerosene shortage.
BJD in Odisha has been in power for more than 15 years and instead of the Congress, the BJP has been able to make best of anti-incumbency in the state which was reflected in the local polls held this year. When asked about splitting the BJD and early elections, the minister said that BJP is not interested in the internal affairs of BJD and described the infighting as a clan war.
Dharmendra Pradhan though maintains that the state government is yet to produce a proper list and ensure that subsidies reach the right segment. The National Executive in Odisha is of great importance to the BJP as it would try to make inroads in eastern states where BJP’s performance remained marginal in 2014.
"Eastern states of India need to come at par with rest of the country. We will discuss the election of 2019 and 75 years of independence in 2022. The issues of eastern India too would be taken up and discussed in the land of Jagannath,” he said.