Senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan today questioned Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s “inability” to communicate in his mother tongue Odia, terming the matter as an insult to the state. “It is unfortunate that the chief minister of Odisha is unable to speak and read in Odia language while all other chief ministers of different states communicate with the people in their mother tongue,” Harichandan told reporters at a press meet here.
“It is a big insult to Odisha. Therefore, Patnaik has no right to rule the state,” Harichandan said. Harichandan raised question on Patnaik’s knowledge in Odia, a couple of days after senior BJD leader and former MP Baishnab Charan Parida publicly criticised the chief minister.
Parida is also the president of ‘Bhasa Surakshya Sammilani (BSS)’, an outfit fighting for the protection of Odia language and literature. Meanwhile, the ruling BJD defended Patnaik and claimed that the chief minister was well versed with Odia language and therefore, the people of Odisha voted him to power four times in a row.
Reacting over Harichandan’s statement, BJD vice-president and senior minister Damodor Rout said: “If he (Harichandan) knows Odia very well why the people of Odisha are not making him the chief minister? Why he could not become a legislator if he has mastered the Odia language? Naveen Patnaik is getting votes because Odisha people trust him and his actions,” Rout said.
Rout said there is no caste, creed, religion or language in the Jagannath culture. “Secularism is flowing in the vein of every Odia,” Rout said. BJD spokesman Sasmit Patra pointed out that Harichandan was a minister in the council of ministers headed by Naveen Patnaik from 2000 ro 2009. “I would like to ask as to why Harichandan was not raising the same issue when he had been a minister,” Patra wondered.