PURI: BJP president Amit Shah Sunday asked Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to step down, dubbing the BJD government a "fused transformer" which failed to develop the mineral-rich state and pull people out of poverty in 19 years of its rule.
Shah's attack on BJD was in sharp contrast to the BJP central leadership's apparent bid to keep the Naveen Patnaik-led party in good humour after its poll debacle in three Hindi-speaking states.
It was often alleged by parties, including the Congress, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah had adopted a soft approach towards Patnaik in the hope of getting BJD's support after general elections, if necessary.
Shah, however, silenced the critics and accused the BJD government of ignoring the state's development, neglecting tribals and Dalits and refusing to accept the Centre's Ayushman Bharat medical insurance programme which would have helped the poor draw benefits.
The BJP president was addressing the valedictory session of the two-day national convention of BJP's ST Morcha in the seaside pilgrim town of Odisha.
Mounting a frontal attack on the Patnaik government, Shah said, "The BJD government is like a fused transformer. It needs to be replaced for the state's progress." He alleged that though the BJP-led NDA government has pumped more than Rs five lakh crore for the development of the state, the BJD government failed to utilise it.
The money being sent by Modi for the development of the state is not reaching the people in the tail end, Shah alleged asking people to "throw away" the BJD government in the coming election.
Dubbing the BJD and the Congress as two sides of the same coin, Shah also called the regional party as the "B-Team" of the Congress.
Both the BJD and the Congress have failed the state and the BJP should be given at least one chance to make Odisha the number one state in the country, Shah said.
Alleging that Patnaik was unable to communicate in the state's language, Shah asked people to elect a chief minister in the coming elections who can understand and speak Odia.
He claimed Patnaik does not understand the pain of the poor because he cannot speak Odia.
The BJP president also slammed the state government for not being able to protect the 'Ratna Bhandar' (temple treasury) of Lord Jagannath.
Citing an instance on the neglect of tribals in the state, Shah said the CM should be ashamed when a tribal like Dana Majhi had to carry his wife's body on his shoulder for 12 km from a hospital to his village.
"Such CMs should be thrown out of power." He was referring to an incident in 2016 when a tribal man in Kalahandi carried his wife's body on his shoulder after being denied a hearse by the government hospital.
Shah was critical of the BJD government and accused it of not being able to spend funds even as the state had enough money in the District Mineral Foundations.
The DMF funds are meant for the development of mineral-bearing areas, mostly inhabited by tribals, he pointed out.
Shah raked up the state government's refusal to adopt the Ayushman Bharat scheme, asking people to raise their voice against this injustice.
"Elections are three months away. I once again request Naveen Babu to accept the scheme or else the voters will throw you out of power," the BJP president said.
"If you want, you can remove our names from the scheme but why are you troubling the poor people of Odisha?" he said.
He alleged that the Odisha CM had not implemented the Ayushman Bharat scheme in the state as he feared it will increase PM Modi's popularity.
Shah said though the state is rich in resources, its youth migrate elsewhere for livelihood and the BJD government has failed to provide jobs.