BHUBANESWAR: NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind was assured of total BJD support during his Odisha pitch on Friday as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik quietened the hiccups by ruling out any cross-voting in his party in the election. As Naveen said, “My party is supporting Ram Nath Kovind as the Presidential candidate,” Kovind promised not to allow Odisha to be neglected as in the past.
In his address to the BJD lawmakers in the Assembly conference hall, Kovind said he will act as per the Constitution and do his duty taking into account the federal structure. “I will try to ensure that no State or language is neglected,” he said and added, “I will act in an impartial manner and keep up the dignity of the office of the President.”
While Kovind congratulated the Chief Minister for turning Odisha into a model state in the country, Naveen categorically ruled out the possibility of any cross voting by the BJD lawmakers in the Presidential election scheduled on July 17. “I do not think so at all,” Naveen told mediapersons while replying to a question on the possibility of cross-voting.
The Chief Minister’s statement assumes significance in view of the claim of Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati that several MPs from BJD and even BJP would vote for UPA Presidential candidate Meira Kumar. Bahinipati had raised the possibility of cross voting after some ruling party MPs questioned the support extended by Naveen to Kovind soon after his telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Chief Minister, however, said, “My party (BJD) is supporting Ram Nath Kovind as the Presidential candidate and we had a meeting today. We requested all MLAs, MPs of the party to support Kovind.”
In his address, Kovind also praised Biju Patnaik for his efforts to turn Odisha as one of the developed States in the country, BJD spokesperson and Minister for Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Surya Narayan Patro told media persons.
The meeting was also addressed by several BJD leaders, Government chief whip Amar Prasad Satpathy, party MPs Tathagat Satpathy, Dileep Tirkey and BJD parliamentary party leader Bhartruhari Mahatab.
The BJD leaders maintained that though Odisha witnessed all round development during the 17-year rule of the BJD, it had to fight Central neglect. Odisha faces natural calamities including drought and flood every alternate year, but Central assistance is very negligible, Satpathy is reported to have said.
Kovind left with chief minister for lunch at Navin Nivas after the meeting which continued for more than an hour. After the lunch, Kovind thanked BJD for extending support to his candidature.
Earlier, Kovind was given a rousing reception at the airport by BJD and BJP leaders. He was accompanied by Union Health Minister JP Nadda.
Meet with BJP legislators
Bhubaneswar: Ram Nath Kovind separately met BJP legislators during his visit here on Friday. The meeting held at the residence of leader of the BJP Legislator Party KV Singhdeo was attended by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, State BJP president Basant Panda, party MLAs including former Union minister Dilip Ray and senior leaders. Nadda and national general secretary of BJP Saroja Pandey addressed the party leaders and described the process of Presidential polls. Kovind thanked the State BJP for supporting his candidature. Senior leader Biswabhusan Harichandan, former chief minister Giridhar Gamang, former minister Manmohan Samal, Surama Padhi and Sameer Dey, state vice-president Sameer Mohanty and senior leaders were present.