BHUBANESWAR: Continuing with BJD’s policy of maintaining equi-distance from Congress and BJP, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday announced his party’s support for UPA Vice-Presidential candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi to silence murmurs of discontent in the regional outfit following his endorsement of NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
While Naveen’s support for Gandhi’s candidature evoked sharp criticism from the BJP, Congress welcomed the decision. However, the decision to support UPA’s Vice-Presidential candidate does not seem to be based on consensus in the BJD. Reacting to BJP’s criticism of BJD’s decision to support the UPA candidate, vice-president of the regional outfit Debi Prasad Mishra said Gandhi is not a Congress candidate. Besides, he is a descendant of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, he said.
The party supremo announced support for Gandhi after considering all aspects, Mishra said and added that the decision was taken after discussion with senior leaders. However, State BJP president Basant Panda questioned Naveen’s decision and wondered what kind of nationalism the Chief Minister is subscribing to, by supporting the candidature of a person who signed mercy petition in favour of Yakub Menon, a terrorist and anti-national.
Panda also alleged about a secret deal between the BJD and Congress which the people of Odisha know.
Though Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra welcomed Naveen’s decision, he said it will not correct the blunder done by the BJD in announcing support for NDA Presidential candidate Kovind, who is a RSS man and BJP leader. Earlier, the Chief Minister told mediapersons, “The BJD will support Gopal Krishna Gandhi.” BJD Parliamentary party spokesman Kalikesh Singhdeo said, “The Chief Minister has proved that the BJD has been maintaining equal distance from the Congress and the BJP.” The Chief Minister had said in 2012 that Gandhi was an “old and valued friend. We were friends even when I was not in politics”.