Bhubaneswar: While the alleged links of senior BJP leader and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan with the Dhalasamant brothers has triggered political uproar in the state, party leaders in the state have launched a damage control exercise.
In a statement to OTV on Wednesday, BJP leader and former minister Samir De said the people of Odisha are concerned over the issue of Dharmendra Pradhan.
“Since his popularity is on the rise, I had decided to invite him to Cuttack and attend the function so that the image of our party would grow further,” he pointed out.
Talking about the participation of Pradhan in a function of the Cuttack Yuvak Sangh, organised by the Dhalasamant brothers, he said “I had invited him to attend the unveiling of Yuva Shakti magazine. There was nothing wrong in his attending the function as a number of dignitaries including the Governor, the Chief Minister and four ministers, senior police officials and district officials had given their congratulatory messages for the souvenir brought out on the occasion.”
Though Pradhan has tried his best to convince the media that he had attended the function organised by the Dhalasamant brothers without knowing their criminal antecedents, observers have taken his claim with a bagful of salt given the fact that he compared the Dhalasamant brothers with the legendary Baimundi.
“If he has compared anyone with Baimundi, at least I cannot accept it.. Baimundi has a special place in the hearts of every Odia. I think the statement he (Pradhan) he has given is incongruous,” eminent litterateur Annada Prasad Ray, told OTV.
In his reaction, the Union minister said he had never compared the Dhalasamant brothers to Baimundi.
“The zeal and work of any Odia youth can be compared with Dharmapada or Baimundi. I had described the work of the Cuttack Yuvak Sangh as that of the Baimundi, not its leader. I saw that character on the stage for the first time,” Pradhan pointed out.