BJD-BJP at loggerheads over CM’s absence at food park launch

Rayagada/Bhubaneswar: The absence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the inaugural function of mega food park in Rayagada today sparked off a controversy with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) terming it a breach of protocol. The BJP, however, rejected the charge and accused the CM of being apathetic towards people of Rayagada.

“In a federal set up, chief minister is the head of the State and the chief guest of any government programme. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to take his consent for the inauguration of the food park in Rayagada district. This is violation of protocol. The chief secretary will apprise the matter to Centre soon,” BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash said.

The central ministers have deliberately ignored the CM, he added.

Union Food Processing Minister and senior BJP leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who inaugurated the project in presence of Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and union minister Niranjan Jyoti today, grossly rejected the allegation of the regional party.

“I personally talked to Naveen Babu over phone before I left Delhi yesterday and invited him to the event. He also assured me of attending the programme or sending two ministers as his representative. It is unfortunate none of the State representatives took part in the programme despite my call,” Kaur Badal said.

She further stated that as per the advice of the CM, names of two Odisha ministers have been engraved on the inaugural plaque.

The State BJP, on the other hand, tagged his absence as BJD’s anti-tribal policy. “If the CM really wants growth of tribal people in remote Rayagada district, he would have attended the programme. His presence would have been a boost for local farmers and entrepreneurs. Now, his absence indicated that his development agenda has only confined to his campaign,” BJP vice president of State unit Sameer Mohanty said.

The food park, which has been constructed on a sprawling 50 acres of land at a cost Rs 80 crore at Bhujabala under Kolnara block in Rayagada, is stated to be first of its kind in the State. Besides food processing, the park has a cold storage, laboratory and other facilities.