Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Monday met India’s Ambassador to Italy, Neena Malhotra, after reaching Rome as part of his 11-day foreign trip, CMO officials said.
Patnaik left Delhi early in the morning and reached the Eternal City later in the day. He wore spotless white kurta pyjama and slippers while meeting the Indian ambassador.
During his second official foreign tour in his 22-year-reign, the Odisha chief minister will also visit Vatican City and Dubai.
In Rome, Patnaik will attend a function of the World Food Programme (WFP) and share transformative initiatives of Odisha in the field of food security and disaster management.
On the occasion, he will also meet the WFP Executive Director David Beasley and other senior office-bearers and have detailed discussions on Odisha’s partnership with the organisation and future projects.
During his stay in Rome, Patnaik will meet Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, in Vatican City. He will also meet the Odia diaspora from various parts of Europe and discuss ways to engage the NRIs in promoting Odisha’s art and culture and also be a partner in the state’s transformational journey, the CMO officials said.
On his way back from Rome, Patnaik will meet potential investors from across West Asia in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He will invite them to invest in Odisha.
Patnaik is also scheduled to have one-on-one meetings with some big potential investors from West Asia.
A high-level delegation from Odisha will also be present during the investors’ meeting June 29 for possible partnerships with foreign investors.
Opposition BJP and Congress, meanwhile, criticised Patnaik for not taking any ministers in the delegation, which comprises only bureaucrats.
“Patnaik trusts babus, not ministers. The ministers in charge of industries, food supplies and revenue and disaster management could have been made part of the delegation,” BJP leader and former MLA Pradip Purohit said.
Senior Congress leader and MLA Suresh Routray said it was “unacceptable” to not take any ministers and only bureaucrats with him on an official foreign tour.
Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallick, however, defended Patnaik, saying, “Being the chief minister for 22 years, he has details of every department. There is nothing wrong in taking officials with him.”
The delegation comprises chief minister’s Secretary V K Pandian, Food Supplies Department Principal Secretary V V Yadav and Odisha’s Resident Commissioner in New Delhi, Ravi Kant. Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra will join them in Dubai.
The delegation will return to Odisha June 30 evening.