A day after BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik met former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Delhi, a BJP MLA today claimed the Odisha Chief Minister’s visit was more than just a courtesy call. “We suspect that Naveen Patnaik meeting Vajpayeeji is not just a courtesy call. He (Naveen) might have some motive behind the meeting. Why did Naveen meet Vajpayeeji after such a long time? What made him to pay a visit now,” questioned BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit.
Claiming that the people of Odisha have lost faith in the ruling BJD government and Patnaik was losing his popularity, Purohit said: “It appeared that BJD wants to be closer with the BJP in order to retain power after 2019 elections.” “Naveen’s meeting create suspicion as he has not bothered to meet Vajpayeeji even though the former prime minister has been ailing for about seven years. Why now,” Purohit asked.
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Patnaik had yesterday also made it clear that there was no politics behind his meeting with Vajpayee. The ruling Biju Janata Dal strongly reacted to the statement made by the BJP MLA. “How could Purohit know that Patnaik did not meet Vajpayee earlier. The chief minister was in regular touch with Vajpayee’s family and used to enquire about his health condition,” said BJD spokesman S N Patro.
Another BJD spokesman P K Deb said the chief minister was close to Vajpayee since beginning of his political career in 1997. As the former prime minister has good relation with people of Odisha and Patnaik as well, the chief minister met him during his stay in Delhi. Ridiculing the BJP MLA’s statement, Deb said the BJD do not want any coalition. “BJD continues to remain the number one political party in Odisha and Patnaik enjoyed support of masses. Therefore, why should BJD work for a coalition with any party,” Deb said.