Pradeep Pattanayak

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in Odisha on Tuesday and held marathon campaigning across the state, sat down with OTV to outline BJP's strategy in Odisha and why he thinks that the saffron party offers a better alternative to the current dispensation in the state. Here are the excerpts from Amit Shah's exclusive interview with OTV: 

OTV: BJP has raised the slogan of ‘Ab Ki Baar, Odisha Mein BJP Sarkar’. On what basis the party aims to achieve the stated goal?

Amit Shah: The basis of this slogan is Naveen Babu’s 25-year-long rule. Juxtaposed to the growth story of the nation, Odisha’s 25 years are the ‘lost 25 years’. During these 25 years, other states have achieved tremendous development. But in Odisha, there is the same poverty, lack of drinking water and pucca houses. In tribal areas, there is no food and medicines. If the health infrastructure is in a pathetic state anywhere, then it is in Odisha. Even today, 26 lakh people don’t have drinking water in their houses.  People want development from this administration. People of neighbouring states like Chhattisgarh have witnessed development. Even today, paddy is not being procured at the MSP. We have promised the farmers that we would buy their paddy at Rs 3,100 per quintal. 

The geographical position of Odisha has made it the most resource-rich state in the country. The rich deposit of minerals underneath its soil is enough to make the entire nation prosperous. But it is unfortunate that the people of the most resource-rich state in the country are poor. There is such a deviation because no steps have been taken for industrialisation.  Iron ore from here is being exported to foreign countries and other states. Instead of using it to generate power here, coal is being sent to other parts of the country. The same is true with aluminium. The utilisation of minerals should be in the state that owns it. But, it is not happening here.

OTV: Modiji has already announced the dates of the oath-taking ceremony in Odisha. Where has this confidence come from? 

Amit Shah: The confidence has stemmed from Modiji’s hard labour. Modiji has done a lot for Odisha’s poor people. He has been instrumental in bringing around 12 central institutions to Odisha and spreading a network of National Highways in the state. During the period between 2014 and 2019 when I was travelling, I encountered with so many obstacles on the road. But today, those obstacles have been converted into wider roads. 

It is the Narendra Modi government that has set up the entire system of electricity transmission in Odisha. He is sending five kilograms of rice to each poor person free of cost. Naveen Babu is only handing out empty bags with a logo. He is rechristening the central government's yojanas as his own. He is also not implementing the central government’s yojanas. 

Maximum youths of Odisha go to other states in search of work. They fall sick there. They don’t have an Ayushman Bharat card. So they are not getting any benefits. Modiji has brought the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’. If the children of Odisha had been given the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’, they would have received 5 kilograms of rice there. They would have had cheaper meals there. 

OTV: Countering Modiji’s invitation for oath-taking on June 10, the Chief Minister has also announced that they would take oath on June 9. What do you want to say? 

Amit Shah: It is up to the people of Odisha to decide. But according to me, the people of Odisha are with the BJP. Odisha people don’t want a 'Tamil Babu' to rule Odisha through the backdoor.  It is a question of Odia Swabhiman. For this Swabhiman, the people of Utkal fought with Samrat Ashoka. The people of Utkal fought with the British for the language. The people of Utkal fought with Indira Gandhi for their language. Naveen Babu has played with Odia people’s swabhiman. I believe this election is to save the pride of the Odia language, Odia Asmita, Odia Art and Odia literature. The people of Odisha have faith in the BJP because Narendra Modiji has made Odisha’s poor daughter the President of India. Narendra Modiji has also released a postal stamp and a coin on Paika Vidroh. During the G-20 summit where leaders of different countries participated, the backdrop proudly displayed the Wheel of the Konark’s Sun Temple. 

OTV: There is a wave after the consecration ceremony of Ayodhya Ram Temple. But here, Lord Jagannath has emerged as a big issue. 

Amit Shah: I want the answer directly from Naveen Babu, not from his babus. What is the secret of Ratna Bhandar? Where did the keys go? Who did it? Is there a duplicate key or not? Whether or not the Ratna Bhandar was opened with a duplicate key? Why the investigation report has not been released? When will you make it public? 

Naveen Babu should have informed all these things to the people before the elections. People don’t believe his 'babu' because they have voted for him, not his 'babu'. 

OTV: You have said that Naveen Babu found a ruse so that maximum people could not participate in the Pran Pratistha ceremony in Ayodhya. 

Amit Shah: Despite the timing problem, people in foreign countries celebrated the moment by lighting earthen lamps. Odias wanted to celebrate the Ram Mahotsav. But he wanted to stop them and launched a yatra. Every Ram Bhakt has reverence for Lord Jagannath. He who is not Odia can only think about making such an act of divisiveness. 

OTV: It is said that Naveen Babu is a staunch devotee of Lord Jagannath. In spite of this, Srimandir has problems galore.  

Amit Shah: The four doors of Srimandir are also not being opened. He did nothing when the Supreme Court tried to stop the Rath Yatra, a tradition of thousands of years. I welcome him for at least saying ‘Jay Jagannath’.

OTV: During the Prime Minister’s recent Odisha visits, he mentioned about chit fund and mining scams and said if BJP forms the government stringent action would be taken. 

Amit Shah: No central agency can investigate properly as long as a state government doesn’t cooperate. After the formation of the BJP government here, we would speed up the investigation and with full transparency, put those who are involved behind bars. 

OTV: The Prime Minister has said that Odisha has been handed over to the mafia. 

Amit Shah: It is his style of expressing his thoughts. If the money of poor Odia people is being looted and going outside, isn’t it mafia? There are scams involving the District Mineral Fund and Disaster Management Fund. Where is the money going? It is being said that when the BJP forms government in Odisha, a young and Odia-speaking leader will become the Chief Minister of Odisha. It is obvious that an Odia will become the Chief Minister of Odisha. Why it has become an issue this time? It is because have you ever heard Naveen Babu speaking Odia? Have you ever read any of his letters written in Odia? This is why it is being said that an Odia-speaking and writing and a son of this soil will become the CM.

Also Read | PM Modi's interview to OTV News: Odia 'Asmita' Played Key Role in Awakening Swabhiman of Bharat 

OTV: You including the Prime Minister have been referred to as political tourists. 

Amit Shah: I will always welcome Naveen Babu in Gujarat whenever he wants to come. We will welcome him but not call him a political tourist. Every nook and corner of this country belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to this country. 

OTV: The second phase election in Odisha is over. What is your prediction?

Amit Shah: We will win 15 to 17 Lok Sabha seats and will cross 75 Assembly seats. 

OTV: It is being said that a national party has made state pride a big issue. Odia Asmita has become a big issue here. What do you want to say? 

Amit Shah: Why are they against a national party? Doesn't the national party have a state unit here? Our state president, Dharmendra Pradhanji, and Baijayant Pandaji, are all our Odisha leaders. Bharatiya Janata Party is definitely a national party. It takes care of Asmita of all the states. Ultimately, the nation’s culture is made up of the Asmita, languages and literatures of all the states. Those who want to force themselves on Odisha have such a conservative approach. 

OTV: Will BJP form government in Odisha?

Amit Shah: Yes. BJP will form the government here. We will try our level best to make the loss the state suffered in 25 years good in five years.

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