Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was described as a ‘role model’ for active politicians of the country by political rival and Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Odisha Literary Festival orgainsed by The New Indian Express Group here, Pradhan said, “I learnt from Naveen babu how to contend your life as a social activist or personality. He is an idol in the political sphere in India for his simplicity in personal lifestyle.”

“Naveen babu’s simplicity is understood from his dress and the vehicle he uses,” said Pradhan.

Citing an instance of the days when the BJD and BJP were sharing an alliance, Pradhan said, “I was travelling with Naveen babu in a Maruti Esteem that he was using earlier. Seeing him somehow compromising with the leg space in the car while sitting in the front, I asked the Chief Minister why don’t he uses a little spacious vehicle like Scorpio to travel. In reply, Naveen babu smiled without saying anything.”

Also read: Hospital fire: CM should resign on moral grounds, says Dharmendra

He added, “I and my political party also agree a few politicians get so much of trust of voters.”

However, Pradhan did not hesitate to indulge in leg-pulling and stated, “He (Naveen babu) is having the characteristic to remain insensitive and incompetent assuming people will vote him without doing anything. Why he is having such kind of philosophy that Lord Jagannath must be aware of?”

Taking umbrage at Pradhan, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said “The Union minister only knows the circumstances which inspired him to praise the BJD supremo. His abrupt praise will have an adverse effect on the party’s grassroots workers,” he pointed out.

In his reaction, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said the intention of Dharmendra Pradhan was to keep the chief minister in good humour which is amply clear that there is a tacit understanding between the BJD and the BJP. “Had there been no alliance between them, then what the CBI is doing in the investigation into the mega chit fund scam in the state? Why the Central investigating agency is now in deep slumber after its visit to Naveen Niwas?”, Mishra asked.

Commenting on the issue, BJP state general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said it is most likely that Bijay Mohapatra has given his statement without going into the details.”The fact remains that both the state government and the chief minister deserve criticism for their inept administration. But praising the chief minister by Dharmendra Pradhan should be considered above politics. There are instances where the Opposition Congress had praised veteran BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee,” he pointed out.

BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said there are several admirers of Naveen Patnaik and Dharmendra Pradhan is one of them. “From political point of view, Dharmendra babu can tell what would be the state of politics in Odisha in the coming days. But for the time being, BJD has no specific agenda for an alliance with the BJP,” he added.

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