Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | 'Sub-standard, below the belt': BJD slams saffron party's remarks over Patnaik's health

Cuttack, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur will be voting in third phase of voting in Odisha.
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 24 May 2024, 16:10 IST
Last Updated : 24 May 2024, 16:10 IST

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Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the third phase of polling in Odisha, a fresh controversy brewed in the coastal state with Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik brushing aside speculations about his health after BJP president J P Nadda said the septuagenarian leader needed rest.

“There is a limit to the amount of lies the BJP can tell people. As you can see, I am in very good health and have been campaigning all over the state for months,” Patnaik said on Friday, a day after Nadda suggested that people have decided to give rest to the BJD chief.

The 77 year old leader’s health remained a subject of intense speculation in the political circle with many alleging that his deteriorating health conditions was a key reason for him not to attend office regularly and rely on former IAS officer V K Pandian, who has emerged as the de-facto number two in the regional party and Patnaik’s heir apparent.

Responding to the speculations on Naveen Babu's health, Pandian said, "I only hope that BJP comes with innovative ideas instead of talking about something which is non-existent. You are all watching the CM, it is very unfortunate, below the belt.”

“The people of Odisha will not appreciate this kind of demeaning of the Chief Minister, who enjoys such popularity among the people of Odisha. I only suggest letting them come up with something innovative. It is so substandard,” he said.

The Tamil bureaucrat’s closeness to Patnaik is the 2024’s Lok Sabha poll’s most crucial rallying point for the opposition camp with BJP flagging issues like “outsiders ruling the state”, “Odia asmita (pride)” and babus running the government instead of the ministers.

“By abusing the CM, they are only helping BJD improve its vote share. We are a mature democracy and one should know where to draw the lines. Just for votes, you cannot demean great leaders. History will not forgive them,” Pandian said at a briefing.

The third phase of polling at six Lok Sabha seats will decide the fates of heavyweights like Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra, senior BJD leader Pranab Prakash Das, 5-term MP Bhartruhari Mahtab who has shifted to BJP from BJD, bureaucrat-turned-BJP leader Aparajita Sarangi and former saffron Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayan Pany.

At the state capital, Sarangi who broke BJD’s five times winning streak from Bhubaneswar in 2019 will take on pilot-turned-politician Manmath Routray, whose father Suresh Routray is a Congress MLA in the outgoing assembly.

The Parliamentary constituencies that will go to the polls on Saturday are Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar along with 42 assembly seats.

Published 24 May 2024, 16:10 IST

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