Bhubaneswar, June 26:
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday condemned the attack on the vehicles of BJP leaders allegedly by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers in Odisha and dared the ruling party to target him.
“I am the defence minister of the country. If anyone (BJD) has guts, let him come in front of me,” Parrikar told reporters here.
The Odisha government is feeling insecure even though the assembly elections are three years away, he said.
“The ground under their feet is slipping. They are doing this out of fear,” said Parrikar.
He said the incident in Bargarh district on June 24 — in which some BJD leaders allegedly attacked the convoy of central ministers Santosh Gangwar and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda — was pre-planned and condemnable.
The three were attacked in the district town when they were on their way to attend Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Vikas Ustav in Bargarh.
Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Ram Kripal Yadav and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also criticised the ruling BJD.
“It is a very unfortunate incident. I had never seen such incident anywhere else in the country. What happened in Bargarh is open hooliganism,” said Yadav who represents Bihar’s Pataliputra constituency in the Lok Sabha.
He said Bihar also suffers from bitter political divisions, but there is no goondaism among the parties.
“The politics of this kind can be possible only in Odisha, not in any other part of this country. I strongly condemn this incident. There is no place for such hooliganism in a democracy,” he added.
Petroleum Minister Pradhan said the ruling party has resorted to undemocratic processes.
“The people of Odisha always believe in the democratic process. Slippers, sticks, stones and using filthy language are utterly undemocratic methods. As the ground under their feet is slipping, they have become totalitarian,” said Pradhan.
Parrikar, Yadav and Pradhan were in Odisha to attend BJP’s Vikas Ustav in Cuttack on Sunday.
The ruling BJD has been trying to make light of the incident and denying responsibility.
“There was no attack on anyone. The issueless BJP is making it an issue unnecessarily. The police is investigating into the matter,” said BJD MP Prasanna Acharya.
Meanwhile, the state BJP has decided to stage block-level demonstrations on June 29 to protest against the attack on its leaders’ vehicles. It will also hold a demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan here on July 4. (IANS)