BJP Asks Odisha CM To Come Clean On Woman Who ‘Accompanied Him To Vatican City’

Bhubaneswar: Hours after Leader of Opposition (LoP) Jayanarayan Mishra accused Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of trying to threaten the Opposition, senior BJP leader Basanta Panda on Friday questioned why a woman, named Shradha, accompanied the CM to Vatican City.

“The entire ruling party was rattled when the LoP raised the issue in the Assembly on September 26. The CM need to answer why she accompanied him, the purpose behind her inclusion in the tour and who paid for her tickets. He should either come clean on this or relinquish his post,” Basanta told a presser.

Naveen had met Pope Francis in the Vatican in June, 2022, while in Rome to attend an event at the World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters.

The former state BJP president also slammed the Speaker over suspension of two party members for the remaining monsoon session of Odisha Assembly. “The Speaker is functioning in a partisan manner. Perhaps, the sight of Dal reminded her of 2011 when she lost her ministry over a multi-crore scam,” he said.

He further said that the ruling party is trying the strangulate the voices of dissent through random comments on mental health of members and by initiating action against the Opposition under one plea or the other. “In reality, the government is feeling cornered by Dal and Shardha issues,” he added.

Earlier in the day, LoP had targeted the CM for warning the members of Opposition parties, stating those who do politics over crime and stall development for political considerations do not return to the House. “There has been a concerted attempt to ensure that those who speak against the CM are not allowed in the Assembly. Bijoy Mohapatra, Nalini Mohanty and Prashanta Nanda are some of the examples. They failed to stop me in 2019 despite using state machinery and engaging in booth capturing,” he alleged, while dubbing Naveen as anti-people and accusing him of obstructing development works in the state.

He further said that the legislators are at the mercy of the people, who voted for them, and not the CM.

Speaking on the suspension of the two BJP MLAs, Jayanarayan said “She (Pramila Mallik) is not eligible to be a Speaker. She has no knowledge of rules and procedures. Is there any rule to prevent Opposition leaders from speaking?” he asked.

The BJP would protest against the suspension of its members, he added.

Responding to the LoP, BJD MLA Prashant Muduli said, “Everybody is aware of CM Naveen Patnaik’s behaviour and simplicity. There is no question of threatening anyone. But the conduct of BJP yesterday in the House was unacceptable.”

The ruling party is yet to comment on the allegations made by Basanta Panda.

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