Bhubaneswar: Former Minister and veteran BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan today questioned Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s “inability” to communicate in his mother tongue Odia, terming the matter as an ‘insult to the state’.
“ It is extremely unfortunate that the Chief minister of Odisha is unable to speak and read in Odia language while all other chief ministers of different states communicate with the people in their mother tongue, Biswabhushan told reporters at a press conference here.
“It is a big insult to Odisha. Therefore, Patnaik has no right to rule the state,” Biswabhuhan said.
Notably, he raised the question on Naveen Patnaik’s knowledge in Odia, a couple of days after senior BJD leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Baishnab Charan Parida publicly criticised the chief minister.
Baishnab Parida is also the President of ‘Bhasa Surakshya Sammilani (BSS)’, an outfit fighting for the protection of Odia language and literature.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD defended Naveen Patnaik and claimed that the Chief Minister was well versed in Odia language and therefore, the people of Odisha voted him to power four times in a row and he will lead the party in retaining power for the fifth time in a row in 209.
Reacting to Biswabhshan Harichandan’s statement, BJD Vice- President and Agriculture Minister Damodor Rout said: “If he (Biswabhushan) knows Odia so well why the people of Odisha are not making him the Chief Minister? Why the people rejected him and he could not become a legislator even if he has mastered Odia language? Naveen Patnaik is getting votes because Odisha people trust him and his actions,” Damodar Rout said.
He said there is no caste, creed, religion or language in the Jagannath culture. Secularism is flowing in the vein of every Odia,” Damodar said.
Lambasting the BJP leader, BJD spokesman Sasmit Patra pointed out that Harichandan was a Minister in the Council of Ministers headed by Naveen Patnaik from 2000 to 2009. “I would like to ask him as to why Harichandan was not raising this issue when he had been a minister in Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet,” Sasmit Patra mocked.