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Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik speaks to 60 lakh students in his maiden ‘Mann Ki Baat’

An unimpressed BJP criticised the Odisha chief minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ as a publicity stunt. Patnaik also rolled out a host of awards to mark Children’s Day.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2017 20:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Children's Day,Naveen Patnaik,Mann ki Baat
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik (PTI File Photo)

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik addressed an estimated 60 lakh students in his maiden ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Children’s Day and rolled out a host of awards, even as the opposition BJP dubbed his programme as “mere publicity”.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Patnaik, who is criticised by opponents for not speaking Odia fluently, started his televised and radio address in the language before switching to English on Tuesday.

He announced a ‘Mo School’ (My School) campaign under which government school ex-students can donate money to their alma mater for boosting infrastructure and the state would contribute double the amount. The government has earmarked a corpus of Rs 100 crore for this initiative.

The CM also announced an annual scholarship of Rs 5,000 each for 300 students who score the best marks in Odia in the high school certificate examination (Class 10). He declared another annual scholarship of Rs 5,000 for 40,000 high school certificate examination toppers.

Before the CM’s address, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stepped up its attack on the BJD, alleging that the government was “spending Rs 200 crore just for its publicity on Children’s Day”.

BJP activists and leaders alleged that Patnaik had suddenly remembered children of the state after 17 years in power.

“The government wants people to forget farmer suicides and is doing this extravaganza,” said BJP spokesperson Sameer Mohanty.

Incidentally, the BJP had started a website on Monday to poke fun at the CM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ event and highlight “failures” of the government.

BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash had slammed the website, saying people would not digest untruths. “The allegation that the state government is spending Rs 200 crore for the Children’s Day function is a pure lie,” he had said.

The BJP and BJD shared power in the state for nine years before Patnaik snapped the ties in 2009.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 20:50 IST