Raking up the sentiments of people, BJP president Amit Shah exhorted them to vote for an “Odia speaking CM in the 2019 elections” and get rid of Naveen Patnaik who had misruled the state for 19 long years.

The BJD and the Congress are one and the same. They have failed the state and Odisha lags behind other states due to the rampant corruption and non-governance, charged Shah.

The language issue was symbolic as Shah was addressing party workers at Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das’s birthplace. Madhubabu had fought for statehood on the basis of Odia language and Odisha was formed on linguistic basis.

The innuendo was on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s inability to speak, read, or write Odia.

This government failed to even protect the Ratna Bhandar (treasure house) of Lord Jagannath, he said while referring to the missing keys of the treasure house.

Shah exuded confidence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the BJP and NDA to a resounding victory in the 2019 elections.

“The BJP, with its NDA partners, will secure a clear majority and I want people of Odisha to also vote for a BJP government in the state.

“If voted to power in the state, the BJP will make it the number one state of the country in terms of development,” said Shah.

The meeting was organised near Salepur and the party had mobilised party workers from politically sensitive coastal Odisha districts of Jagatsighpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, and Cuttack. It was for the first time that the BJP national president has entered the region.

Significantly, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who launched a blistering attack on CM Naveen Patnaik, asked people to re-elect PM Modi by voting for BJP LS candidates while he fought shy of saying the same for the assembly elections.

Shah took note of this and said, “I can’t understand why Dharmendra Pradhan felt hesitant? The BJP will form the government both at the centre and the state.”

The Congress ruled for several decades, the BJD has been in power for 19 years, but Odisha, with all its resources, has remained backwards, he noted.

Shah reeled out the achievements of the Modi government, like Mudra, Ujjawala, Jan Dhan, housing, health, and other schemes.

Unfortunately, the ‘corrupt’ Naveen Patnaik government has deprived people of availing the benefits of the central schemes, he alleged.

Shah referred to the Ayushman Bharat scheme and questioned why Naveen Patnaik was denying the poor and ailing of getting health care benefits under the scheme by rejecting it.

He claimed that Odisha had received a total of over Rs 5 lakh crore under the Modi dispensation.

People have to choose between a strong and development-oriented Modi led government or a corrupt Mahagatbandhan which does not have any leader or policy, he said.

The surgical strike was proof of the BJP’s boldness. Only Modi could have done it, certainly not the Congress, he said.

Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram came down heavily on the Naveen Patnaik government as they charged that irrigation, electricity, toilets, sanitation, and health care sectors have collapsed. They also questioned the security and safety of women and children in the state. Corruption and PC (percentage of bribe) culture have been promoted and spread by Naveen Patnaik, they alleged.

Pradhan took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi’s charge that Modi holds the remote of Naveen Patnaik saying the remote of the Congress and Naveen Patnaik is in the hands of the mining mafia.