Bhubaneswar, Sept. 15: Narendra Modi is in action — only in name though — in the run up to the municipal polls, electioneering for which is scheduled to come to an end on Tuesday.
The Congress today took potshots at chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s “bonhomie” with his Gujarat counterpart. The party alleged that the BJD was planning to join hands with the BJP before the next general elections in 2014.
Addressing election rallies at Jatni in Khurda and Pattamundai in Kendrapara district, Union minister of chemical and fertilisers Srikant Jena said: “Naveen babu has a good rapport with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Behind-the-scene moves are on for an understanding between BJD and BJP.”
The BJD, which claims to be maintaining equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress, refuted the allegation. BJD vice-president and minister Damodar Rout said: “Srikant babu is trying to create confusion in the minds of the people of Odisha. Under the leadership of Naveen babu, we cannot join hands with a communal party like BJP.”
Another BJD minister Surya Narayan Patro also echoed the same feelings. “We are maintaining equal distance from both the Congress and the BJP.”
Arun Sahu, also a minister, said: “There is no question of a tie-up with BJP. We snapped ties with them in 2009 because they had taken a communal stand.”
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who had been using a helicopter for campaigning, was today forced to go by road because of intermittent rains throughout the day. “Naveen babu went by road as the chopper did not take off because of rain,” said a BJD official.
At party meetings in Balasore, Nilagiri and Bhadrak, Naveen said how his government had taken steps for development of the state.
Treating the municipal polls as the semi-final before the general election in 2014, the ruling party is using all resources at its command to emerge victorious. It has fielded popular Odia cinema comedian Tatwa Prakash Satpathy, aka Pappu Pom Pom, for campaigning apart from Odia film star Anubhav Mohanty and MP Siddhant Mohapatra.
The Congress, which had announced that Union ministers Chiranjeevi, Jairam Ramesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot would campaign for the party, has so far failed to bring any of them.
“Though we contacted them, we did not find time to pursue them. Odisha-in-charge B.K. Hariprasad is coming to campaign in the state on the last day of electioneering on September 17,” said a Congress leader.
While the BJD has fielded candidates in 1,091 of the 1,104 wards going to polls, the Congress is contesting in 1037 wards and the BJP in just 703 wards.