Naveen Patnaik Should Retire Due To His "Advanced Age": Amit Shah

Mr Shah asserted that the BJP-led NDA has already bagged 310 seats after the conclusion of five phases of Lok Sabha polls and will secure its 400-target in the next two phases.

Naveen Patnaik Should Retire Due To His 'Advanced Age': Amit Shah

Amit Shah also accused the BJD government of "insulting" Odisha's pride and culture

Sambalpur/Keonjhar/Dhenkanal/Nayagarh (Odisha):

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is 77 years old, should retire due to his "advanced age and health issues", while promising that the BJP will make a young Odia-speaking 'bhumiputra' the CM if the party is voted to power in the state.

Mr Shah asserted that the BJP-led NDA has already bagged 310 seats after the conclusion of five phases of Lok Sabha polls and will secure its 400-target in the next two phases.

Hitting out at bureaucrat-turned-politician V K Pandian, a close aide of Patnaik, without taking his name, Mr Shah said a "Tamil babu" is ruling the roost in Odisha and people will vote for the BJP to free the state from "babu raj".

Addressing back-to-back election rallies in Odisha ahead of the third phase of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls in the state on May 25, Mr Shah said the ongoing polls are to make Narendra Modi the PM for the third term and restore Odisha's glory, which has been "destroyed" by the Patnaik-led BJD government.

"With the conclusion of five phases of polling, NDA has already won 310 seats. We will achieve our 400-plus seats target after the sixth and seventh phases," Mr Shah said.

"Naveen babu has made a Tamil officer ruler of the state. Oust the BJD government... we will give a young Odia-speaking chief minister... babus (officers) have looted the state of its minerals. I promise you these babus would be jailed after the BJP forms the government in Odisha," Mr Shah said.

"If BJP is voted to power in Odisha, a 'bhumiputra' (son or daughter of the soil) will rule the land of 'Utkala Bhumi' and not a Tamil babu," he said.

Stating that people now realised that 25 years of BJD rule have become "lost years" for Odisha, he alleged that healthcare system, entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure have "derailed" in the state and only PM Modi can bring these sectors back on the track.

"Naveen babu is not keeping well, as a result of which 1.5 lakh government vacancies are not being filled up. If we form the government, we will make appointments to these posts," he said.

On the missing key of Lord Jagannath's Ratna Bhandar (treasury), the Union Home Minister said, "I want to ask Naveen babu, where is the key of Ratna Bhandar and why he has not released the judicial commission report (on the matter)? After coming to power, the BJP government will punish those responsible for the missing key." Addressing a rally in Keonjhar, Mr Shah alleged that local tribals get no benefit despite the district being mineral rich.

Coming down heavily on the previous Congress government, Mr Shah said, "Congress has done nothing for tribals... former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had formed a separate ministry for tribal affairs, while Narendra Modi has worked to eliminate Naxalism in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana." Mr Shah said Modi has constituted DMF (district mineral foundation) and given crores of rupees for the development of the tribal-dominated district.

"The budgetary allocation for tribal affairs has been enhanced to Rs 1.25 lakh crore under Modi government from Rs 25,000 crore given during the previous UPA regime," Mr Shah said, adding that the BJP government has set up 740 'Ekalabya schools' where one lakh students are studying.

Mr Shah said kendu leaves pluckers will get proper price, besides bonus, for their minor forest produce. Besides, they will also have provident fund.

He also announced that a 500-bed hospital will be set up in Keonjhar, while a 500-bed medical college will be established in Sambalpur.

Claiming that terror incidents have sharply dipped under the Modi government, the Union home minister asserted that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India.

Mr Shah also accused the BJD government of "insulting" Odisha's pride, language, culture and tradition.

He urged people to elect a BJP government in Odisha to ensure speedy development and preservation of the state's rich culture.

Alleging that the BJD government wants to "convert Jagannath temple into a commercial centre", Shah said mutts and temples have been "destroyed" in Puri and all four gates of the temple are yet to be opened for the public.

"Even a conspiracy was hatched to halt the world-famous Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath," Mr Shah alleged.

At the Nayagarh rally, Mr Shah warned the BJD against indulging in rigging and called upon people to cast their votes freely without fear as central forces would keep a watch on the polling.

"Though Odisha has rich mineral resources, the state doesn't have a chief minister who can protect the resources. The BJD government has also neglected western Odisha. BJP is committed to equal development of all parts of the state," he added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)