Rattled by attacks over a series of scams and charges of inefficiency against the Naveen Patnaik government, ruling BJD leaders on Saturday threw their weight behind the party president and chief minister to uphold his "clean image".
"Naveen Babu's image is fortified with support of party workers and good wishes of people. The opposition conspiracy will not be able to pierce into Naveen's popularity wall," said BJD MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, known as the main strategist of the party.
BJD leaders, including ministers, virtually entered into a competition at a function marking the 95th birth anniversary of legendary leader Biju Patnaik, to shield the chief minister from opposition attacks over the spate of scandals, including the multi crore mining scam and the recent dal scam.
Describing Patnaik as a great "warrior" in politics, Mohapatra said the chief minister's strength was his popularity and clean image. "Opposition parties make wild allegations against Patnaik and they will not succeed," he said.
Health and family welfare minister Prasanna Acharya asked partymen to defeat the opposition attempt to tarnish the image of Patnaik over scams. "We must protect Abhimanyu (Naveen) from the attacks of Kauravs (Opposition)," Acharya said. "The Opposition conspiracy against Patnaik will be defeated if we fight unitedly," agriculture minister Damodar Rout said, adding the state government would serve the people under the leadership of Naveen.
"Only Naveen can take the state forward. Therefore, we all should stand by him," said party MP Prasanna Patsani.
The Patnaik government faced flak from the opposition Congress and BJP for the multi crore mining scam, while the recent dal scam had put the state government in a tight spot as beneficiaries were poor children and pregnant women across the state.
Though Patnaik had ordered a vigilance probe into the mining scam, the irregularities in the purchase of dal for mid-day meal scheme and Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) had proved costly for the government with a minister being axed. The opposition was now targeting Patnaik.