Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 17:

Days after BJP announced its intention to use the services of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh as a star campaigner during Odisha panchayat polls, senior party leader Bijoy Mohapatra today said that such a move might backfire given the considerable angst in the state against Singh over the Mahanadi issue.

Bijoy Mohapatra

“It is not fair to bait the Chief Ministers during the (panchayat) poll. Party leaders, however, can campaign. Besides, since there is a reaction over the Mahanadi issue in certain areas, opposition might reap the benefits,” said Mohapatra going against the party line yet again.

Mohapatra, whose name had been dropped from the BJP star campaigner list in the first phase and was later introduced in a revised list, today yet again hinted at his stand to stay away from the campaign and sarcastically added, “BJP doesn’t have stars. It has superstars. I haven’t been there yet”.

His obvious target – Dharmendra Pradhan – meanwhile defended using services of Singh.

“Everyone has a right to campaign in a democracy. Raman Singh is a popular leader. Using his services will certainly benefit our party,” said Pradhan.

BJP hopes that the good governance of Singh in the neighbouring state will benefit it in the polls at bordering areas of Odisha- Chhattisgarh. Besides, the party expects that direct statements of Singh on Mahanadi issue will help it counter the Mahanadi narrative of Biju Janata Dal.

Meanwhile, Odisha units of Congress and Samajwadi party have also expressed their displeasure over Singh campaigning in the state. Both the parties have vowed to oppose him in the state.

Speaking to reporters, Mohapatra today also proposed that Both CBI and Vigilance – that have delayed their investigation so far — should stay away from their investigations until the panchayat polls are over.

“They should not be used as weapons for the polls. Let the parties fight the polls. Let the public be the judge. Given the election process has already begun, I would urge both investigating agencies to refrain from being a weapon. The politics of vengeance was not there in Odisha politics before. It should stop,” said Mohapatra reacting to the recent raids conducted by CBI at BJD leaders houses and Vigilance raids at fuel stations including a gas agency owned by Dharmendra Pradhan‘s brother Soumendra.