In an embarrassment for the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Odisha government, senior party leader and the state’s minister for small and medium enterprises, Yogendra Behera, on Monday asked a personal security officer (PSO) to tie, and later untie, his sandal straps during a programme to unfurl the national flag in Keonjhar district.
The PSO bent down to loosen, and subsequently tighten, the straps in the presence of thousands of people, as also TV cameras.
Asked about the incident by local reporters, Behera said, “I am the VIP. I have hoisted the flag; he (PSO) has (done that).”
The minister later reasoned that he had a knee problem and it was all right for the PSO to loosen his sandal strap.“He was helping me out,” Behera added.
Calling it a “shameful incident”, Odisha BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma, “There is no distinction between government staff and personal staff in the Naveen Patnaik administration. The ministers think…Odisha is their fiefdom.”
In the morning, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had committed a gaffe during his Independence Day address in Bhubaneswar when he referred to famous lawyer Madhusudan Das as a freedom fighter.