File photo: Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Under fire from the Opposition for backing the NDA candidate in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s election, the BJD today said that it had supported the JD(U) due to “ideological similarities” and continues to maintain equal distance from the BJP and the Congress.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha had voted in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh– a first-time MP of the Janata Dal (United).
BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Aug 8 declared support for Singh after holding talks with JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
As there were two candidates in the August 9 election, the BJD supported the JD(U) because of our ideological similarities since the JP movement, BJD spokesman Sasmit Patra said in a statement.
“The BJD believes that when it comes to the (election for) constitutional posts such as a speaker, deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, unanimity should be there. However, that did not happen,” he said.
“We had made our stand clear two days ago. However, the opposition party leaders are not ready to understand the circumstances. We have nothing more to say,” he added.
In the wake of the NDA nominee winning the keenly fought contest with 125 votes against 105 by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) contestant B K Hariprasad, a fuming Opposition led by the Congress has mounted a scathing attack on the BJD.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik in a tweet posted separate pictures of Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi purportedly talking about the election with the caption “phone a friend”.
In a separate post, he shared another photo of Patnaik captioned “all lines to this route are busy” mocking the chief minister’s alleged failure to get access to Modi to discuss the special category status for Odisha and illegal encroachment by BJP governments in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
The Congress leader further said, “The PM and the CM have been talking a lot on phone these days. Wonder when will they talk about issues on Odisha? Why does not the CM pick up the phone and ask the PM to intervene on the construction of barrages on Mahanadi by the BJP ruled Chhattisgarh government?”
Ridiculing Naveen Patnaik’s claim of maintaining equal distance from the NDA and the UPA, he said in another post: “The equal distance has turned into better understanding. The games of BJD and BJP have been totally exposed. Sad that BJD has chosen to ally with BJP, a party which betrayed Odisha on every front …”
Niranjan Patnaik further accused the BJP of betraying the people of Odisha and its own cadre.
“BJP’s Mission 120 has turned into Mission 420 for the people of Odisha and BJP members,” he said.
BJP chief Amit Shah had launched the ‘Mission 120’ campaign in 2017 claiming that the party will storm to power in the state with two-thirds majority in the next assembly elections.
The Congress leader urged Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram, both from Odisha, to join the Congress if they wanted to serve the people of the state as Congress was the only credible opposition.