Rashmi Rekha Das

At a time when the ruling BJD is leaving no stone unturned to make the second Hockey World Cup (HWC) being organised by the Odisha government a memorable one, Opposition parties have termed it a political gimmick of the Naveen government to rebuild its already 'tarnished' image. 

The Hockey World Cup will be played in Odisha from January 13 to January 29, 2023. Odisha CM has deputed several ministers to different states and union territories to invite Chief Ministers for the mega sports carnival which will be hosted by Odisha for the second time in a row.

It is being said that Naveen Patnaik has again displayed his statesmanship by inviting Chief Ministers of others states through the cabinet minister and not through sending out letters and that too without any consideration to which political party they belong. 

Many BJD ministers were seen clicking photos with Chief Ministers of other states and posting them on social media for the benefit of their party. 

While BJD claims that the sports event is not political, leaders of Opposition parties have accused BJD ministers of circulating photos with other CMs for party campaign. 

The Odisha government had hosted Hockey World Cup in 2018, but it hadn't invited so many guests from other states for the gala event. This time, Naveen Patnaik has invited CMs of different states just for the sake of his party’s benefit, alleged the Opposition parties.

The BJP claimed that Naveen Patnaik’s image has been tarnished in national politics which is why the BJD government is trying to clean its image before 2024 election. And, Hockey World Cup is the best opportunity for him to do so.

BJP leader Pradip Purohit said, “There was a time when Naveen Patnaik was known for his clean image, but not now. It’s an opportunity for Naveen Patnaik to rebuild his image through the Hockey World Cup.”

Congress leader Suresh Routray said, “Naveen Patnaik’s image has become tarnished because of rising cases of women atrocity, rapes and unemployment. Naveen is inviting Chief Ministers to Hockey World Cup to restore his lost image.”

However, BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra said, “Hosting Hockey World Cup twice in a row in last five years is a proud moment for every Odia. That’s why, we welcome Naveen Babu’s step. It is needless to mention that Naveen Patnaik’s stature is always clean nationally.”

“It is clearly visible that Naveen Babu always wants to be in the limelight of national politics. He wants to make his presence felt in national politics through Hockey World Cup,” said political analyst Prasanna Mohanty.