Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he personally went down to Padampur to campaign for his party candidate Barsha Singh Bariha ahead of the by-poll, as he was hurt by the “disrespect” shown by the BJP towards the rookie nominee.
Patnaik’s comments on Thursday came shortly after Bariha scored an emphatic win against BJP’s Pradip Purohit by 42,679 votes.
“People often ask me why I preferred to campaign in Padampur while refraining from doing so in the panchayat election and other by-polls.
“I was really hurt over the manner in which the state BJP leadership offended a young, educated and grief-stricken girl like Barsha, who recently lost her father,” the CM said in a video message.
Bariha polled a total of 1,20,807 votes, while Purohit secured 78,128 votes, the Election Commission said.
“BJP’s treatment towards her was disrespect to all women. So, I went and stood by Barsha like a father, a brother and a friend,” Patnaik said.
The people of Odisha have never tolerated insult to women, nor will they ever do so, he asserted.
During the election campaign, former Union minister and Sundergarh MP Jual Oram had courted controversy by questioning Bariha’s tribal status following her marriage to a non-tribal man.
Meanwhile, Bariha’s father-in-law and senior BJP leader Rama Ranjan Baliarsingh echoed Patnaik, saying he and his family members were pained when a few BJP leaders launched a personal attack on her.