BJP to make ‘Odia Asmita’ key poll plank in Odisha

BJP emphasises Odia pride to challenge Naveen Patnaik's governance, citing language, culture issues

Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition in Odisha Legislative Assembly, appears to have decided upon ‘Odia Asmita’ (Odia pride) as its key poll plank in Odisha. If the speeches of top leaders of the saffron party in the past few days are anything to go by, it will go to the Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls with this emotional issue to disarm the Naveen Patnaik government that has been ruling the state since 2000.

On April 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a national news channel in Delhi that Odia Asmita was in danger and people in the state were aghast at attempts made by certain people to trample upon their language.

Home minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda in their recent election rallies in the state had also raked up Odia language and culture issues and alleged that the BJD government was extending patronization to the bid to distort Odia Asmita.

Though the PM, home minister and BJP president did not mention names of any persons during their speeches, they dropped enough hints about Odia CM Naveen Patnaik’s inability to speak the language of the land without referring to his written speech as well as his over-reliance on Tamil Nadu-born bureaucrat-turned-politician V Karthikeyan Pandian.

Odisha was formed in 1936 as a language-based independent state. It is for the first time that language, literature and culture are going to dominate the poll narrative.

The issue of ‘Odia Asmita’ is said to have its genesis in V Karthikeyan Pandian’s growing grip on the ruling BJD’s organisational affairs and the state government.

The BJP has been accusing that ministers in the Naveen Pantaik government have just become “rubber-stamps” and none of them was able to put a signature to any files without prior sanction of Pandian. Besides, the party has been alleging that – apart from Pandian – a group of other non-Odia officers are calling the shots in the state administration.

JP Nadda, at his Berhampur poll rally on April 28, went on to allege that all work contracts in Odisha are going to the contractors of Tamil Nadu, the home state of V Karthikeyan Pandian. He also called the BJD government “corrupt” and observed that “nepotism” had become the order of the day under Naveen Patnaik’s regime.

“Odia Asmita, language, civilisation and culture have been attacked. We have to save language, civilisation and culture. So a change is required here,” said BJP’s Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha member Aparajita Sarangi.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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