Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 6:
With less than 24 hours to go before dedication, the fight for credit of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd’s Paradip refinery continues to rage on.
After BJD’s press conference yesterday and full page advertisements and TV commercials today to highlight contribution of Odisha Government, Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik, Odisha Unit of Congress called a press conference today to point out the contributions of its leaders and discredit BJD and BJP’s claims.
“Congress had started the construction of the IOCL Paradip project. While the BJD stood on its way, the BJP tried to kill the project altogether. The BJD led State Government attempted to block the project by refusing to grant it the tax waivers. BJP’s Petroleum Minister Ram Naik wrote a letter stating the project is financially unviable,” said PCC President Prasad Harichandan.
“Both BJD and BJP are trying to steal the limelight. Paradip port was set up by Prime Minister Pandit Nehru. IOCL construction began during the tenure of former Chief Minister Janaki Patnaik. Whatever happened has happened during the UPA tenure,” he added while questioning the need to dedicate the project once again after former Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily inaugurated the Main Control Room (MCR) of the refinery back in 2013.
In the meanwhile, couple of other leaders also joined the fray to demand their share of glory.
Former Petroleum Minister Bhajaman Behera, who was in office back in 1990, today spoke to a TV channel here and claimed that the Paradip refinery is his brainchild.
“The Union Government was looking to set up a refinery in eastern zone. The port was already there in Paradip. I spoke to former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, who pressurized former Prime Minister VP Singh to get Odisha the project. Besides, the project was approved by the Economic Affairs Committee because of my efforts,” said Behera.
On the other hand former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang also wrote to various media houses stating, “A race has started in Odisha among political parties to take the credit for IOCL Paradip Petroleum refinery project. Had I not personally involved myself as the then Chief Minister of Odisha, this refinery would have shifted to some other place”.
Among his contributions, he cited that only after he met the Union Petroleum Minister, the Indian Oil Corporation decided to set up the Paradip refinery on its own. There was uncertainty over the project after Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) pulled out of the venture.
While the credit war continues to rage on, the poster war between BJP and BJD partially subsided after this afternoon. Even though BJP accused BJD for defacing posters of Narendra Modi in Bhubaneswar earlier in the day, a series of meetings between top leaders eased off the tension.
BJP leader Samir Dey and BJD veteran Damodar Rout claimed that the poster issue has been addressed and both parties would work towards ensuring that everything goes off well during the refinery dedication ceremony tomorrow.
Another BJD MLA Debashis Samantaray, however, was unrelenting.
“Tomorrow we will mobilise over a lakh BJD supporters. We will welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but cheer only for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” said Samantaray.