Dilip Ray Praises Naveen, Fuels BJD Comeback Talk

Gopalpur: Former Union Minister Dilip Ray, who walked into political oblivion after a failed attempt to rejoin BJD after 17 years ahead of 2019 elections, hogged headlines again when he praised Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Gopalpur Beach Festival on Saturday.

Ray was all praise for the tourism policy of the state government and congratulated Naveen for Odisha being chosen as the venue for the 2023 Men’s Hockey World Cup for the second consecutive time. He said that Jagannath devotees will forever remain indebted to him for his mega plans for development of Jagannath Temple in Puri and its periphery. He also lauded similar steps being taken by the state government for beautifying Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar and Sun Temple in Konark.

He said that he comes across an article or an advertisement on Odisha in magazines at every airport across India. “I want to express my gratitude to him for putting Odisha on world map,” he added.

Reacting to the statement, BJD vice president Prafulla Ghadai said that the hotelier-cum-politician is adept in political manoeuvering.

Ray ‘s praise assumes significance as he was a few years ago considered a strong rival of Naveen. This has triggered speculation of Ray possibly eyeing to re-enter BJD of which he was a founder member, but subsequently made an unceremonious exit after falling out with Naveen.

There were also reports of him rejoining the party ahead of 2019 elections after he was spotted at Naveen Niwas after 17 years.

In 2014 Assembly elections, Ray had defeated BJD’s Sarada Prasad Nayak by a margin of 10,929 votes. He had also served as Rourkela MLA as a Janata Party candidate in 1985 and as a Janata Dal nominee in 1990. He did not contest the Assembly elections in 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2009. He served as industries minister in the Biju Patnaik government between 1990 and 1995 and was also a central minister in the A B Vajpayee dispensation. He was Rajya Sabha member on JD ticket from 1996 to 2002.

In 2002, Ray was elected to Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate with the support of some BJP MLAs. He then joined the Congress in 2004 but quit the grand old party in 2008. Subsequently, he joined the BJP, only to leave it ostensibly because a powerful section within the saffron party sidelined him along with ex-minister Bijay Mohapatra, who too quit the national party on November 30, 2018.


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