Bhubaneswar, March 5: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Wednesday lashed out at Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, saying the leaders visited Uttarakhand after the floods but not his state following the devastation caused by Cyclone Phailin.
Patnaik was addressing a women’s rally in Berhampur town in his home district of Ganjam, 180 km from here, on the 98th birth anniversary of his father Biju Patnaik.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader said leaders of both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) visited Uttarakhand after the floods but none of them visited Odisha during a similar crisis four months ago.
Starting from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, all visited Uttarakhand.
But during the Cyclone Phailin and the subsequent floods in October, none of them visited Odisha, Patnaik said. “Are we not citizens of India?” he asked.
“Where were all these leaders when Odisha was facing a crisis? People know it well that they are shedding crocodile tears,” Patnaik said in broken Odia, the state’s official language.
He said people of Odisha have been working in Gujarat’s Surat and contributing to the growth of that state. But the Gujarat government did not help them when they were in distress after the cyclone.
Modi during his visit to Odisha last month remembered Biju Patnaik at a public meeting and said the most appropriate tribute to the late leader will be to make Odisha a developed state.
He then also criticised Naveen Patnaik for the state government’s failure to create jobs as many migrants from Odisha working in Gujarat were from his home district Ganjam.
Elections to the 147-member assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state would be held in two phases – April 10 and 17.
Patnaik launched the statewide 13-day “blow the conch – protect your pride” campaign Feb 20. Conch is the BJD’s party symbol.
Patnaik was also scheduled to address two more rallies during the day, one at the western town of Sambalpur and another in state capital Bhubaneswar.