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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Vote cast, BJD president and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik confident

Joining the campaign at various places of Odisha, including Kujanga and Aul, BJP’s star campaigner and Union Minister Smriti Irani targeted Naveen over the issue of the missing key of the ratna bhandar (treasure trove) of Puri Shree Jagannath temple

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 26.05.24, 08:10 AM
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik returns after casting his vote on Saturday, and (right) VK Pandian on his way to the polling booth in an autorickshaw

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik returns after casting his vote on Saturday, and (right) VK Pandian on his way to the polling booth in an autorickshaw The Telegraph

BJD president and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday exuded confidence that his party would form a stable government in the state.

After casting his vote, Naveen — aiming to come back to power for the sixth time in a row — said: “I expect Biju Janata Dal to have a great victory in both Assembly and Parliament elections. We will form a very stable government in the state again because of the blessings of Lord Jagannath and the people.”

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Naveen walked up to a polling booth near Naveen Nivas and cast his vote, apparently to send a message to the Opposition that he was fit and fine. Earlier on Friday, Naveen asked the BJP to stop spreading lies and rumours about his health and said: “I am in very good health and I have been campaigning for around a month all over the state.”

However, Naveen's close aide V.K. Pandian took everybody by surprise when he reached a polling booth in an autorickshaw to cast his vote. He said: “Members of the autorickshaw association had requested me to do so when I met them a couple of months ago. They are my brothers. In my student days, I used to travel in autorickshaws and motorcycles.”

Such a gesture is bound to send a message to nearly two lakh autorickshaw association members that the government was with them. The association has a strong presence in Puri, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar where voting was held on Saturday.

Pandian said: “In democracy and judiciary, everyone is equal. It’s better that one behaves like a common man.”

BJP’s Bhubaneswar sitting MP Aparajita Sarangi cast her vote at Nayapalli.

The election campaign has intensified for the fourth phase polls scheduled to be held here on June 1.

Joining the campaign at various places of Odisha, including Kujanga and Aul, BJP’s star campaigner and Union Minister Smriti Irani targeted Naveen over the issue of the missing key of the ratna bhandar (treasure trove) of Puri Shree Jagannath temple. “Once the BJP is voted to power, the guilty will be punished and put behind bars,” said Irani.

Like her party leaders, she also did not spare Pandian and asked people to free the Naveen government from the clutches of bureaucrats. She also talked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s "guarantee". “Time has come for a change in Odisha. The people of the state are fed up with corruption, crime and atrocities against women and children.”

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