Himansu Shekhar Rout

The President of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Mallikarjun Kharge came down heavily on the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and mockingly accused both the parties of being locked in a love marriage to loot Odisha.

“The two parties have become allies only to destroy Odisha. The two parties will sell off mines in Odisha. They are locked in love marriage for this reason,” he observed.   

Addressing the Odisha Banchao Samavesh at lower PMG in Bhubaneswar on Monday, the Congress veteran said, “For former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Odisha held a special place and now too, it holds the same importance for Congress. Nehru and Biju Babu shared a good relationship. Even he attended the last Congress session of his life in Odisha in 1964. Former Chief Minister of Odisha, Biju Patnaik was in our Congress party,” he added.

He pointed out that the Rourkela Steel Plant and the Paradip port have been set up in Odisha because of Congress.  “The Mancheswar Rail coach factory is the contribution of Congress. Whatever development has been done in Odisha was carried out by Congress,” Kharge said.

Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the Congress president said, “Today Patnaik is abiding by the BJP ideology. He keeps changing his colours. Hence, there is a heaven and hell difference between former Chief Minister late Biju Patnaik and current Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.” 

Alleging that Modi and Patnaik are with all rich people while Congress is with the poor, Kharge lambasted the Prime Minister and said, “Because of threats, some people are leaving parties and parties are leaving alliance.”

He also said that Rahul Gandhi has been binding the country with the principle of unity while the BJP is dividing the country.   

“If some leaders and people become cowards, will our Constitution and democracy survive? If you vote for Modi again, there will be no election in the country. It is the responsibility of the people to save democracy. If you want to save democracy, you can do it. If you want to be slaves, it depends on your wish,” he observed.

He accused the Prime Minister of running his hegemony by using agencies like the ED and the CBI.

In an apparent veiled attack on 5T chairperson, VK Pandian, the Congress President also alleged that an officer is running the government in Odisha and the political leaders are becoming lifeless. “If Odisha has no leaders, will a leader from outside be brought? The Tamil Nadu-cadre IAS officer has become the advisor to the government,” he observed.

Training his gun at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who deserted the INDIA bloc on Sunday, Kharge said that the alliance will not be weakened because of one leader's exit. “The parties in the INDIA bloc are united and will trounce Modi and Naveen," he added.

What Opposition parties say

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mohan Majhi lashed back at the AICC president, saying, "It seems, Congress’ efforts to rise up will not be fruitful in Odisha. Their tree may grow, but it will not bear fruits. The tree will finally come out as an unproductive one. This is my prediction about Congress’ future.”

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak downplayed the assertions of Kharge. “Kharge’s assertions will not affect the BJD government. The people of Odisha love Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the BJD. That is why the mandate is always in favour of the BJD. No matter whoever comes or whoever makes whatever statements; it will make no difference to us,” Nayak added.

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