Modi-Patnaik mutual praise triggers speculations

Praises showered from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on each other for pre- and post-Fani relief and rehabilitation initiatives have triggered intense speculations in political circles. A possible tie-up between BJP and Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal(BJD) seems to be in offing after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results on May 23.

Praises showered from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on each other for pre- and post-Fani relief and rehabilitation initiatives have triggered intense speculations in political circles. A possible tie-up between BJP and Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal(BJD) seems to be in offing after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results on May 23.

Both the leaders have softened their stand against each other, which has come as a big surprise to many observers, because of the manner in which they as well as their respective parties had campaigned and fought the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state which concluded in April.

The mutual appreciation episode was initiated by Prime Minister Modi when he praised Patnaik for the works his administration did to handle the cyclone Fani impact. “Patnaikji bahut badhia kaam kien hain (Mr Patnaik had done an excellent job)”, the PM said during his visit to the cyclone-ravaged state two days after Fani made his landfall in Puri on May 3.

He was referring to the state administration’s decision to evacuate lakhs of people to relief shelters and other safer places before Fani’s landfall which saved many lives.

After the Prime Minister, it was the turn of Patnaik to praise the Modi administration for its help in handling Fani. “At the outset, I would like to thank the Union government for the support rendered to the state of Odisha, to effectively manage the extremely-severe cyclone Fani and its aftermath”, Patnaik said in a letter to Modi while seeking five lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

Interestingly, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) issued a statement praising Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan for sanctioning 1000 kilolitres of kerosene free of cost for cyclone-hit people. The senior BJP leader was leading his party’s election campaign in his home state.

The development provided an opportunity for the Congress party to criticise both BJP and the BJD. “Both were hand-in-gloves in all issues. The war of words during election campaign was nothing but a natak (drama)”, said a senior Congress leader.

The BJP and the BJD were alliance partners for almost 12 years between 1997 and 2009.

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