Demonetisation: Naveen Patnaik’s support aimed to protect clean image

Patnaik is the only non-NDA chief minister apart from his Bihar counterpart, Nitish Kumar, to support the move.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Updated: November 28, 2016 1:31 pm
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Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has broken ranks while most of the opposition parties are up in arms against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes. He praised the move as a bold step. Patnaik is the only non-NDA chief minister apart from his Bihar counterpart, Nitish Kumar, to support the move. His stance comes as a surprise as Patnaik had recently rallied against the BJP-led central government over its alleged bias towards Chhattisgarh vis-a-vis the Mahanadi water dispute.

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BJD sources said that the support for demonetisation was a move to protect Patnaik’s clean image ahead of February’s panchayat polls. The CM’s advisors were wary of BJP exploiting issues like malnutrition deaths and lack of health care facilities. “Black money is an issue that will find resonance among voters in panchayat polls,’’ said a BJD leader. “The party’s biggest strength is Patnaik’s clean image. We did not want the BJP to go to town and announce that BJD supports black money hoarders.’’

Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD’s Parliamentary Party leader in Lok Sabha, said that Patnaik’s support for demonetisation should not be surprising as they have supported anti-corruption bills. “Demonetisation is a fight against black money and corruption and BJD is in support of transparency,’’ he said.

Mahtab said that his party will raise the difficulties common people were facing and ask for steps taken to mitigate them.

The BJP has welcomed the support, but added that Patnaik should not use it as an opportunity to find out an escape route for protecting black money. The Congress has linked Patnaik’s support to a “secret’’ BJP-BJD deal to protect BJD leaders allegedly involved in chit fund scam.