An altercation between Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Odisha BJP vice-president Baijayant Panda touched a new low on Sunday, with the latter claiming that there are occasions when his former party chief "cries like a schoolboy".
Mr Panda said this to news agency ANI while trashing Mr Patnaik's claims that he had lobbied with the centre to get railway lines laid to his mining companies rather than Kendrapara district. "Utter rubbish. I am disappointed that Naveen (Patnaik) has reduced himself to making wild, unsubstantiated allegations. Sometimes he cries like a schoolboy, sometimes he says I'm complaining about his health, sometimes he says I'm coveting his chair," he said.
The BJP leader is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Kendrapara, which will vote on April 28. He will face-off against the Biju Janata Dal's Anubhav Mohanty.
The Odisha Chief Minister had made the allegation against Mr Panda while describing the sequence of events that led to him quitting the Biju Janata Dal for the BJP. "I found that Kendrapara was the only district on the coast where the railways were hardly developed. That was when a former Railways Minister laughed, saying that my parliamentarian (Baijayant Panda) was only concerned about providing rail links to his mining companies. This shocked me," he said.
Mr Panda claimed that the people of Kendrapara know how much he had "slogged" to get the railway project started. "For 18 years, Naveen Patnaik did not find anything dubious about me. There were close relations between his family and mine for nine decades, but none of these allegations came up until last year," ANI quoted him as saying.
He also questioned the Naveen Patnaik government's claims that most development projects were successfully completed. "I had conducted a survey during my first tenure. While 8,700 permanent houses were constructed in Kendrapara on paper, an audit found only 160. Over 8,500 remained on paper," the BJP leader said.
The Chief Minister had earlier posted an exercise video on social media to dispel rumours allegedly spread by Mr Panda that all was not well with his health.
(With inputs from ANI)