BJP, Cong leaders voiceless, only BJD can fight for Odisha’s interests: Naveen Patnaik
Even as the Trinamool Congress in neighbouring Bengal faces massive challenges from the BJP ahead of assembly polls next year, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday invoked regionalism while launching an attack on both BJP and Congress leaders accusing them of being remote-controlled by their Central leadership.
Addressing the first executive body meeting of the Biju Yuva Janata Dal, the youth wing of the party through the virtual route, Patnaik said only a regional party can fight for the interest of the state.
“The Congress government in the state was remote-controlled from Delhi. The BJP governments in other states also follow the direction of the national leadership. National parties are bound to compromise on the distinctive requirements of a state for gains in the larger national context. State leaders of national parties neither have the voice to insist on protecting our unique heritage nor do they have the intent to do so in a hierarchical centralized national party structure. BJD is the only regional party that is working hard to preserve and promote the unique identity of Odisha,” Patnaik said.
“We are not a drop in the ocean, we are the ocean. Remember my words! Only a regional party will do justice for aspirations of the youth and preserve the state’s unique identity. Otherwise, the mainstreaming national parties will make you a small drop in their vast ocean,” he said, alluding to massive poaching of TMC leaders by BJP in Bengal.
Patnaik said for Odias the Odia language was more important than Hindi. “Mahanadi is more sacred than any other river, Odissi music is a classical art form, Kosali and Ho are mainstream languages, the rich diversity of our tribal population is our pride and Sambalpuri handloom is world-class. Our mineral wealth is bountiful and unmatched. The diversity and richness of tribal culture is our strength. All these do not matter to a national party or their branches in states,” he said.
Patnaik said the primary objective of national parties is to win elections and have power to form government at the Centre. “They (leaders of national parties) have to basically impress the national headship so that they can get crucial posts or become ministers. The state leaders of national parties neither have the voice to insist on protecting our unique heritage nor do they have the intent to do so in a hierarchical centralized national party structure,” the CM said.
Continuing his tirade against BJP, Patnaik said his government has been urging the Centre for ‘Special State’ status for Odisha as the state faces natural disasters every year, “Both the national parties – BJP and Congress had kept Special Category Status as their number one point in the manifesto of the 2019 general elections. But like always, they forgot it conveniently after the polls. On the other hand, BJD will continue to fight for it and keep reminding national parties about their step motherly treatment of Odisha. The very purpose of forming a separate state is to preserve, protect our unique identity and continue to fight for the people of Odisha,” said Patnaik.
BJP in its reaction said the chief minister’s tirade showed BJD does not have any agenda to develop the state. “Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan is working hard to ensure development of Odisha and the voice of the state is now being heard in Delhi. The Centre had suggested resolving the Mahanadi issue by amicable discussions. But BJD is resorting to agitations and it doesn’t have any intent to protect the interests of the state. After BJP led by PM Narendra Modi came to power, Odisha has been getting what it deserves which was not possible during the UPA regime,” said Golak Mohapatra, senior BJP leader.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said Patnaik’s speech was to play down speculations over the BJD- BJP nexus. “BJD is trying to show that they are do not support the ideology of the BJP by raking up the stepmotherly treatment by the Centre only to save its own image before the people,” he said.