Bhubaneswar: The BJD yesterday claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru had chosen Biju Patnaik as the defence minister but could not go ahead because of opposition from leaders in Gujarat and Maharashtra and so there was no point in Narendra Modi referring to the legendary Odisha leader.
"The Gujarat Chief Minister's words about Biju Patnaik are meaningless. Nehru wanted to make Biju 'babu' the defence minister in 1962. But the move was stalled by leaders from Gujarat and Maharashtra," Odisha health minister Damodar Rout, who also happens to be BJD's vice-president, said in the Assembly.
"What was Modi doing then?" Rout asked adding that the BJP's prime ministerial candidate was probably busy with RSS activities somewhere in Gujarat.
Rout was speaking about Modi's address at a BJP rally here Tuesday in which the Gujarat Chief Minister had stated that Biju Patnaik must be pained to see the present situation in Odisha.
Modi had said, the most appropriate tribute to Biju Patnaik would be to turn Odisha to a developed state. Rout also hit out at Modi's remarks about people from Odisha earning their livelihood in Gujarat and said many Gujaratis also sought employment in Dubai and other countries.
Expressing concern over the poverty and backwardness of Odisha, Modi had drawn a parallel between him and Naveen Patnaik and said both had completed 14 years as chief ministers, but he had strengthened Gujarat in such a way that people from all over the country looked for job there.