Centre did not “dishonour” Odisha: BJD

Bhubaneswar: Brushing aside Opposition allegation that the Centre had “dishonoured” Odisha Government by not allowing state Finance Pradip Kumar Amat to attend the NITI Ayog’s meeting in Delhi, the ruling BJD today said that Amat never wanted to participate in the event in the first place.

While opposition Congress alleged that Amat did not get entry pass to the NITI Ayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJD spokesman P K Deb said: “Finance Minister Amat has gone to attend the e-commerce meeting chaired by Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry in the afternoon.”

“The Chief Minister’s Office on Monday had received a telephonic message from the PMO that only chief ministers will participate in the meeting. Therefore, Finance minister was informed that he will attend only e-commerce meeting,” Deb said.

Amat, who had earlier yesterday before leaving for New Delhi said that he would attend the NITI Ayog meeting on behalf of the chief minister, however, today said: “I have not sought any pass to attend the PM’s meeting. I will attend only e-commerce meeting.”

Cooperation Minister and senior BJD leader Damodar Rout, however, said the denial of entry to the State’s representative is uncalled for. “If it is true that Amat has been denied permission. It should be an unfortunate development in a federal system.”

BJP national secretary Suresh Pujari, however, blamed the chief minister for the embarrassment caused to the Finance minister.

“The chief minister should have attended the meeting as a governing member of the NITI Ayog. But he sent Amat. He has a habit of excusing himself from attending such meetings.

It’s not only an embarrassment for Amat, it’s an embarrassment for Odisha, which has been caused by the chief minister,” said Pujari.

Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik asked the state government to protest over disrespect shown to Finance Minister.