BJD, BJP in ‘lungi war’ over Naveen campaign video

Spokesperson Swayam Prakash Mahapatra said Pradhan has hurt the sentiment of weavers and ridiculed their hard work.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the campaign video
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the campaign video Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: An Instagram video featuring Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a traditional lungi and seeking votes for the BJD has triggered a war of words between the regional party and the BJP ahead of the elections in Odisha.

The video of Naveen clad in a lungi, seen holding two conch symbols in both hands and appealing for double votes for the BJD - one for the MP and the other for the MLA candidate - went viral on social media platforms on Monday.

Responding to the ‘jodi sankha’ (double conches) campaign of the BJD, Union Minister for Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan was seen taking potshots at the ruling party, saying the conch is cracked and cannot be blown.

“You all must have viewed the video in which Naveen Babu is seen wearing a lungi and holding two conches. He is an elderly person and we all respect him but what all he is being made to do!” Pradhan was seen asking at a campaign meeting in Sambalpur constituency on Tuesday.

This drew the wrath of the BJD which took the fight to another level by questioning Pradhan’s intention to ridicule the attire which it said was a Sambalpuri weave. Party leaders said the union minister is envious of the chief minister’s growing popularity and having sleepless nights after the ‘jodi sankha’ campaign struck an emotional chord with the people of the state with four million views in 24 hours.

BJD national spokesperson Sasmit Patra said Pradhan has lost his mind in frustration. He has insulted the tradition and culture of Odisha by criticising the Sambalpuri lungi worn by the CM. Lakhs of weavers who are involved in lungi trade and lakhs of people who wear it feel insulted by the union minister, he said. Spokesperson Swayam Prakash Mahapatra said Pradhan has hurt the sentiment of weavers and ridiculed their hard work.

As a retort to Pradhan, the two BJD spokespersons appeared in lungis at a press meet at Sankha Bhawan. Pradhan has forgotten the tradition and culture of the state and contribution of weavers as he was out of Odisha for many years and spent a lot of time in UP, Bihar and MP.

The BJP countered the BJD narrative stating leaders of the party feel demoralised whenever the pride of Odisha and Odias is discussed. “It is only during the tenure of Naveen Patnaik, lakhs of weavers lost livelihood following the closure of state-run textile, spinning and ginning mills. They have now decided to respond through votes against the conspiracy hatched by the BJD government to demolish the livelihood of the weavers and their tradition,” BJP spokesperson Anil Biswal said.

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