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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 6:

A day after Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan praised Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and called him a “simple man” and a “role model in Indian politics”, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra — among others — today said that the statement will affect the party workers in a negative way.

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“I am not sure why and in which context he called Naveen a role model. However, I think it will impact the morale of the party workers at the grassroot levels in a wrong way,” said Bijoy reacting to Pradhan’s statement at the Odisha Literary Festival yesterday.

BJP General Secretary Prithiviraj Harichandan saw no issues in the statement though.

“In politics, we oppose each other’s ideology. There is no personal animosity involved in it. There have been plenty of instances wherein leaders cutting across party lines praised former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee among other BJP leaders. We need to consider this side as well,” said Harichandan.

Same was the stand of Odisha BJP President Basant Panda. Interestingly, Prithiviraj’s father and BJP veteran Biswa Bhusan Harichandan – who has worked closely with Patnaik for nearly a decade — didn’t seem to agree with Pradhan or son Prithiviraj. “There is no point being simple in public life and something else elsewhere. This is duplicity. Such people cannot be considered role models,” said Harichandan senior.

“I have seen Naveen Patnaik from close quarters. I have no hesitation to say, he — as a person – is a simple man. His choice of clothes, his vehicle, all point towards it. I still believe, as a political personality, he is a role model in Indian politics,” Dharmendra Pradhan had said yesterday.

Congress, on the other hand, claimed that the statement exposed the hidden alliance between the BJD and BJP.

“BJP — as a party — can go to any extent for political benefits. A day before, they criticized the Chief Minister, a day after they praised him, a day later they again criticized him. These decisions are not policy driven. It is opportunistic. Besides, it exposes the hidden alliance they have. Does the slow progress of CBI investigation into the chit fund scam not prove this,” said Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Narasingha Mishra.

Similar was the stand of former PCC Chief Jayadev Jena. Another former PCC President Niranjan Patnaik recounted how his opinion on Naveen changed over time.

“I had a very high opinion of Naveen when he was new in Odisha politics. I genuinely believed that he will never spare the corrupt and the antisocial. However, he has changed over years. Now, as you can see, he patronises all sorts of corrupt and evil around him,” said Niranjan.

Biju Janata Dal, however, welcomed Dharmendra’s statement.

“Dharmendra Pradhan is not alone. He is among many others to have praised the Chief Minister and rightly so. Earlier he criticized Naveen and I had advised him to look at the Chief Minister’s work through the right prism. He probably did so this time and was able to see the good work being done by the government under his leadership,” said BJD Spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy.

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