Ahead of the National Integration Council meeting on October 13, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik sought to quash criticism over his handling of communal violence in the state and described the demand for imposing President’s Rule as “totally unjustified and politically motivated”.
He condemned as “horrible and shameful” the attacks on churches and Christians by the Bajrang Dal and the VHP but ruled out snapping ties with his ally, the BJP.
“There have been violent incidents and communal clashes in other states as well. Why should the Orissa government be targeted?” the 62-year-old BJD leader asked in Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate programme on CNN-IBN.
Patnaik denied colluding with the Dal and the VHP and claimed action was taken against both outfits.
He disagreed that the recent violence has affected his secular image or standing among minorities. “Every bone in my body is secular…And I don’t think any of those bones have been damaged,’’ he said. “I feel I have not let down anyone in my state to whichever community they belong.”
Patnaik dismissed efforts to draw a parallel between him and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi or Kandhamal and Godhra. “That comparison cannot be made rationally by anyone.” Barring the Kandhamal incident, there has been no communal violence in the eight years of BJD-BJP rule, he said.
He denied the state police had suppressed letters left by Naxals where VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati was killed, leading to the communal flare-up.
“Why should the police suppress the letters? Three persons have been arrested for killing the Swami and they will get to the truth.”