Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan defended the fuel price hike saying funds were required for developmental activity in the country.

Skirting the issues involved, he said the drop in crude prices has given an opportunity for the country to garner resources for ‘vikas’.

It may be noted that unlike during previous increase in fuel prices, the ruling BJD here and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had not criticised the move. Earlier, the BJD used to hit the streets each time there was a fuel price hike and had said it will have a cascading effect on essential commodities.

But this time around CM Naveen Patnaik was “soft” and refrained from any such criticism.

Significantly, on Saturday, Union Minister Pradhan too said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s praise for the Union Budget is “welcome”.

Asked whether the BJP will fight the Patkura assembly seat election scheduled for 20 July with all sincerity or opt for a “friendly fight” with the ruling BJD as alleged by the Congress, Union Minister Pradhan said “we will fight and win the seat”.

He came down heavily on the Congress for raising questions over centre’s clearance and support to the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh ignoring the objections of Odisha government.

The Congress has no moral right to raise the issue since it was during the UPA regime that the project clearances were given, he noted.

He also rubbished the talk that Odisha will get less allocation as per the Union Budget. There is no basis for such allegations, he said before adding that the details of the railway budget allocation are yet to be known and hence it was premature to make such wild allegations.