Senior party leader and Union minister Jual Oram Tuesday said Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Odisha. He was speaking to reporters here after former Odisha-cadre IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi joined the saffron party in the presence of party president Amit Shah in Delhi Tuesday. The announcement came amid rumours in the political circle that the BJP would project Sarangi as its chief ministerial candidate for the state assembly elections next year.
“Dharmendra Pradhan will be the chief ministerial candidate of the BJP in Odisha. We will fight the forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections under his leadership. Our aim is to unseat Naveen Patnaik from power and put an end to the rule of the non-Odia bureaucrats in the state,” Oram said.
Asked about Sarangi’s joining the BJP, the Union tribal affairs minister said she has joined the party as a primary member. On speculations of the resignation of two senior party leaders – Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray and party’s national executive member Bijay Mohapatra – from the BJP, Oram said it will be a “major loss” for the party if they quit. However, the BJP will try its best to compensate the loss if it happens, he added. Ray had recently hinted at his resignation from the party as he alleged the central government had not taken steps for the development of Rourkela city.
“I do not think Ray will quit the party on the issue of development, rather due to political reasons,” Oram said.
The minister said his personal relationship with Ray was very good.
“It is the personal matter of a leader to decide whether to remain in a party or quit,” he said.
Ray is reportedly unhappy with the Central government as no progress was made in the construction of the second bridge over Brahmani river and upgradation of Ispat General Hospital (IGH) in Rourkela. Oram “blamed” the BJD-led state government for the “delay” in sanction of the bridge work. He claimed the state was yet to give the documents for environment clearance for the project. However, the process to upgrade the IGH as a super speciality hospital has already started, he added