Relaunching in Orissa | india | Hindustan Times
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Relaunching in Orissa

The BJP has decided to make the 'betrayal' by BJD president Naveen Patnaik and the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati its twin campaign themes for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state next month. Soumyajit Pattnaik reports.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2009 00:26 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

The BJP has decided to make the “betrayal” by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik and the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati its twin campaign themes for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state next month.

At its first rally here after the BJD snapped its 11-year-old alliance with the party, BJP leaders spewed venom at Patnaik, lambasting him for “betraying the trust of the people” and failing to nab the “real killers” of Swami Laxmanananda.

Patnaik was was also targeted for the failure to protect the swami even after death threats.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj promised the gathering that the swami’s “real killers” would be arrested within a month if the party is elected to power. Laxmanananda’s killing in August 2008 had sparked anti-Christian violence in which 39 people were killed in Kandhamal district.

“We have tolerated enough. In Kandhamal, Swami Laxmanananda was killed. The killers are still at large and nothing has been done. We did not say anything before as we thought it important to observe the coalition dharma. But no one seems to be serious about nabbing his killers,” she said.

BJP state chief Suresh Pujari, Rajya Sabha member Rudra Pani, BJP legislature party leader B.B. Harichandan, Swaraj and others highlighted Laxmanananda’s killing.

“Swami Laxmanananda was killed because of the government’s failure to provide him adequate security,” said Harichandan, who till March 7, was the law and industry minister.

Pujari said: “The BJD has even decided to give party tickets to some of the swami’s killers to contest the polls.”

Among other speakers, Rajya Sabha MP and Pioneer editor Chandan Mitra said, “The people will give a befitting reply to the betrayal by the BJD.”

Swaraj expressed the hope that the rupture of the alliance would prove to be a blessing in disguise as party workers had responded in huge numbers to attend the BJP rally.

With the exception of Swaraj, all the leaders trained their guns at the BJD. Swaraj spoke of the UPA’s “soft” posture towards terrorism and the controversial affidavit filed in Supreme Court denying Lord Ram’s existence.