Himansu Shekhar Rout

An unusual scene unfolded at a press conference in Sankha Bhawan (BJD headquarters) on Tuesday when party's spokesperson Swayam Prakash Mohapatra and senior leader Sasmit Patra addressed the media in lungis and also posed for photographs. 

BJD’s press meet was reportedly aimed at Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan for his ‘alleged jibe’ at the Chief Minister & BJD president Naveen Patnaik, who was seen in a lungi in a video appeal to voters.  

While campaigning in Laikera on Tuesday, BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate for Sambalpur, Dharmendra Pradhan made a critical statement referring to Naveen Patnaik's video. 

Addressing the gathering there, Pradhan reportedly said, "You all have seen our Naveen Babu, an elderly person, in lungis and joda sankhas (twin conches). There is a gumasta (house manager) who is getting so many things done. At least, he should get an elderly person like Naveen Babu dressed up in a pyjama and kurta. I have respect for an elderly person like Naveen Babu. Should he (gumasta) have done this to an elderly person?”

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It is believed that BJD functionaries turning up in lungis at a press meet today was a counter to the Union Minister. 
Addressing the presser, BJD leader Sasmit Patra said, "The handloom sector has its own economy in the state. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has lampooned the handloom sector and the Sambalpuri lungi. He has hurt the culture of Odisha and Sambalpur.” 

In response, BJP spokesperson Anil Biswal said, "The BJP would welcome the BJD if it questions the Union Minister on any political issue. The BJD is making one false allegation after another. Lungi is an issue for them.”

"Union Home Minister Amit Shah has already made it clear that the 2024 elections will be fought on the issues of Odia asmita (pride), Odia culture, Odia language. The BJD has no moral courage to counter such issues. The BJD leaders are behaving like headless chickens,” he added.