Campaigning in poll-bound Padampur in Odisha on the last day, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Saturday urged its people not to trust the ruling BJD.
He said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who pledged to accord district status to Padampur sub-division on Friday, had ”betrayed” the people of neighbouring Bijepur. “Though he(Patnaik) claims that he works more and speaks less, the BJD president simply utters lies. He had assured a delegation to make Padampur a district very soon in 2019. Now he is saying that he will do it by 2023. Therefore, do not trust him,” Pradhan told a poll meeting at Jagdalpur in Padampur area. Pradhan’s meeting on Saturday, the last day for campaigning for the December 5 by-poll in Padampur, follows the three held by Patnaik on Friday which drew huge crowds. The BJP leader had campaigned extensively in the constituency earlier too.
Stressing his point, Pradhan pointed out that Odisha Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallick had informed the Assembly two days ago that the government has no plan to create any new district in the state.
”Therefore, Patnaik has made a false pledge to fulfil the dream of a Padampur district,” he said. He recounted that Patnaik had contested from two assembly seats in the 2019 state election. “The people of Bijepur had elected him but Patnaik retained his Hinjili seat and resigned from Bijepur. He has betrayed the people of Bijepur”.
Bijepur like Padampur is in Bargarh district in western Odisha.
The senior BJP leader also claimed that Patnaik’s visit to Padampur is a ”victory” of democracy as he was forced to visit it to seek votes. “The chief minister has taken leave from the Assembly for two years now, but he was forced to come Padampur because of the by-poll. This is a victory of the people and democracy,” Pradhan said.
On Patnaik’s “crocodile tears” remark against BJP leaders, the union minister said “You criticised the 18 per cent GST on kendu leaf trade. But your finance minister never raised the issue in the GST council. It is you who is shedding crocodile tears for the kendu leaf pluckers and the poor people.” Patnaik had said in the poll meetings on Friday that the BJP has been ”shedding crocodile tears” for the poor, the kendu leaf pluckers, farmers and others while pointing out that the GST on kendu leaf trade was 15 per cent more than that on gold. He attacked the chief minister saying, “You (Patnaik) are too tired and are repeating what your gumastas (agents, officiers) speak in your ears. Sometimes I feel that you have lost the ability to think. The officers put lies in your ears to get votes.” Referring to Patnaik’s assurance to create a new notified area council for Paikmal, a community health center at Jharbandha and irrigation facilities, Pradhan said “What did the BJD government do for Padampur in the last 22 years of its reign?” He also condemned Patnaik on the Bargarh Road-Nuapada Road via Padampur railway line issue. “The work of the new rail line was given to a state-run agency headed by the chief secretary. Therefore, the state government is responsible for the land acquisition and other requirements”.
Pradhan claimed that since Narendra Modi became prime minister the state has received a lot of importance and assistance. While it used to get Rs 800 crore for railway infrastructure development annually, Modi allotted Rs 10,000 crore this time. It got bigger assistance from the 15th Finance Commission and other sectors.