Copter-happy Odisha CM faces ‘chickening out’ charge

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 9:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s unprecedented decision to use a helicopter to reach Cuttack, which is just 30 km away from the state capital, to attend the annual function of Ravenshaw University on Wednesday has predictably given rise to a political row with the Opposition going hammer and tongs at him for the decision.
Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:
On a day when the opposition should have been running for cover following its resounding defeat in the urban local bodies (ULB) polls, the BJD supremo unwittingly gave it a handle to beat him with and opened himself up to the charge of ‘chickening out’ of a road journey.

“Patnaik is probably the first Chief Minister, who used a chopper to visit Cuttack, barely 25 km from Bhubaneswar… By road, it takes 20 to 25 minutes. This only goes to prove how terrified he is,” pointed out Congress leader Suresh Mohapatra.

With the ‘egg attack’ on his convoy by Youth and Student Congress members here still fresh in memory, the Chief Minister was obviously not taking any chances. The chopper ride was clearly designed to avoid a rerun of the February 19 incident when Congress activists had broken his security cordon and pelted stones and eggs on his carcade.

Three police officials, including two of ACP rank, have been suspended and 18 Congress members arrested and charged with section 307 (attempt to murder) in an action that is indicative of the extent of panic in the establishment after the incident.

BJD leaders made a feeble attempt to attribute what was essentially an act of panic to a ‘busy schedule’. But there were no takers for this theory propounded by Barabati-Cuttack MLA Debashish Samantaray.

A police officer in the Chief Minister’s security entourage gave the game away when he said, on condition of anonymity, that he was ‘advised’ to take a chopper following an ‘intelligence input’.


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