BHUBANESWAR: The mudslinging between the BJD and BJP over a debate on the performance of the State Government vis-a-vis the Centre continued with the saffron party alleging that the ruling party in Odisha is trying to escape by bringing in Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the discussion.
Dharmendra Pradhan is an Odia and a Union Cabinet Minister, BJP state general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said and added that there will be no problem over protocol if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik participates in the open debate with him. Stating that the interest and self-esteem of 4.5 crore Odia people are linked with the debate, Harichandan said the debate should be in Odia.
Harichandan called upon the BJD to announce the place, date and time for the debate which the BJP is prepared to participate. However, BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Deb had said on Saturday that if the Chief Minister will be present, then the BJP should be represented by the Prime Minister. “Why is BJP, which has set the target to win 120 Assembly seats in next election, afraid,” Deb asked.
Deb said there should also be a comparative assessment of election manifestoes of two political parties and the steps taken to fulfil the promises. “The election manifestoes released by BJD and BJP in 2014 election and steps taken by the State Government and the Centre to fulfil the promises should be compared and this should also be a part of the open debate,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray said on Sunday that both BJD and BJP have a lot of explaining to do about the under-development in Odisha. BJP was in alliance Government in Odisha with the BJD for nine years, Routray said and added that the party should also own responsibility for the backwardness of the State.