Bhubaneswar: No sooner had Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone for the first Odia university at Satyabadi in Puri than the opposition Congress and BJP slammed him for doing it ahead of the polls and also ridiculed him for his alleged lack of knowledge of Odia.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Pattnaik welcomed the move saying it would immensely help in spreading Odia language far and wide and also research works can be undertaken in Odia as a subject. “But in the last 19 years of BJD rule in the state, what was Naveen Patnaik doing in this regard?” he asked.
“Translation for you @Naveen_Odisha: I thank the CM for the laying foundation stone of Odia University. I hope he enrolls there soon to learn Odia,” (sic) he tweeted.
Niranjan alleged that Naveen is trying to influence the sentiments of Odia people by shedding crocodile tears for the cause of Odias and Odia language before the elections.
“Though an Odia by birth, Naveen babu does not know Odia and in these past 19 years of his tenure as CM he could not speak in Odia,” the Congress leader added.
“Odia is our official language and second official language in Jharkhand. But our Chief Minister does not know his official language, what a pity!” he remarked.
Similarly, BJP too criticised the CM over the issue. Speaking to reporters here, senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan said, “Just ahead of the elections, the CM has shown his love and affection for Odia. It seems that he is doing so only to gain political mileage from it.”
Naveen is unable to talk in Odia despite leading the government for the last 19 years, he said, adding, “There is no such state in our country where the CM doesn’t know the official language or local language of that state. If the CM cannot understand Odia, then how will he be able to appreciate the problems of the people and provide good governance?” He urged the CM to take a pledge to speak with the people of Odisha only in Odia.
However, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patro said, “The establishment of the Odia university by the CM shows his love for the language. The university is closely associated with the sentiments of the people of the state. Politicising it is sad and unfortunate.”
Replying to Harichandan, the BJD leader said, “Harichandan has worked as a senior minister for nine years under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik. During that time, in which language did he communicate with the CM? If he was having any issues, then why did he not speak about it at that time?”
By making such statements, the opposition leaders are only playing politics over a sentimental issue, he added.