Bhubaneswar: On the sidelines of the high drama that unfolded in front of the Odisha Assembly on Thursday when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators marched towards Naveen Niwas 'in search of' CM Naveen Patnaik, Odisha Panchayati Raj Minister, Pratap Jena made a caustic remark which did not go down well with fellow Opposition legislators.
Making an off-the-cuff jibe, Jena said, "Naveen Niwas is a holy place and the sins of BJP leaders will be washed away if they step into it."
Jena while speaking to the media at the Naveen Niwas, further added, "I welcome the BJP members coming here to meet the CM. This is a holy place and it is an important landmark in Odisha politics. After Biju Babu, CM Naveen Patnaik has been serving people from Naveen Niwas."
He continued," I hope the sins that the BJP leaders have committed and for which the voters of Odisha have been rejecting them, will be washed away once they step into Naveen Niwas," Jena said.
An aggressive BJP appeared to be in no mood to take the minister's rant lying down.
Leader of the Opposition, Pradipta Naik who was part of the BJP delegation which met the CM, was quick to hit back. "Since the Minister (Jena) said only sinners go to Naveen Niwas to cleanse their sins, we will not step inside as we have not committed any sin."
It is pertinent to mention here that, the BJP took to streets on a mission to track down Naveen Patnaik for his ‘absence’ from the Assembly during the budget session where proceedings were stalled for the sixth consecutive day on Thursday. Later on, the Chief Minister came out of his residence, in what has been termed as 'history', to meet the protesting legislators and called them inside for discussions over the paddy procurement issue in order to resolve the impasse in the State Assembly during the ongoing budget session.