Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 6:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today termed State Excise Minister Dr Damodar Rout’s remark on farmers buying alcohol with agriculture loan as ‘incorrect’.
Talking to media persons after a review meeting with panchayati raj representatives of Jagatsinghpur district, the BJD supremo said, “I don’t think it is correct”.
When asked about ministry reshuffle, he said, “We will look into it”.
On BJP’s claim that the party was responsible for formation of BJD, he said, “That’s absolutely false and baseless”.
Dismissing the speculation about BJD’s initiative to reunite the Janata Dal, “I think that is early days yet. The general elections are still far away”.
Clarifying his remarks, Dr Rout took a U-turn saying he had not told that farmers buying liquor with agriculture loan.
“Yesterday, I had not said farmers buying liquor with agriculture loan amount. I said that the agriculture loans are misutilised by land owners, not the farmers”, he said.
He said that he has been demanding for loans to the sharecroppers.
On the other hand, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not let go the chance to take a dig at the minister. The party has demanded an unconditional apology.
“It is an insult to the entire state and farming community. He (Rout) should tender an unconditional apology and withdraw his statement,” said Odisha BJP president Basant Panda.
Notably, Dr Rout had walked out of the review meeting chaired by CM Patnaik and was seen discussing with the party workers outside. He rejoined the meeting after intervention of some party men.
With IANS inputs