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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Former union minister and Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray has once again fuelled speculations of his return to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with his admiration of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Ray while attending Gopalpur Beach Festival in Ganjam recently praised the CM for the development of tourism sector in the State. He lauded Naveen for hosting Konark Eco Retreat Festival and undertaking development works of Jagannath temple in Puri and Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. He was also all praises for the CM over re-selection of Odisha as host for the 2023 Men’s Hockey World Cup.

“Today I would like to thank the State government and Naveen Patnaik for developing the tourism sector. For the first time, the CM has taken the tourism sector a long way forward,” Ray, who is one of the founding members of BJD, said at the event.

However, political observers looked at the incident in a different angle. Speculations have already begun to do rounds whether Ray is hinting at a comeback to the ruling party.

Ray, who had quit the BJP in November last year, had earlier triggered speculations regarding his return to BJD ahead of the last general elections after he made a late evening visit to Naveen Patnaik’s residence.

Speaking about the development, senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty said, “A fresh speculation has again rekindled prospect of Dilip Ray’s return to BJD. The speculations were rife during the last election and his returning to BJD was all but confirmed. As Rajya Sabha elections are due, his admiration towards Naveen has added fuel to the speculation.”

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