Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched a piercing attack on Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, saying he was a version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the state. He said Mr Patnaik was "autocratic", but yet to become like the Prime Minister.
"We are fighting against Modi in the national level and a Modi version in Odisha," he said at an interactive programme in state.
"But I must say one thing with respect to Mr Naveen Patnaik -- he is autocratic, he has centralised power, but he is yet to become like Narendra Modi," he was quoted by news agency Press Trust of India.
Mr Gandhi alleged PM Modi had "leverage" over Naveen Patnaik "because of corruption cases".
He alleged that there was a tacit understanding between the two leaders. "Mr Naveen Patnaik supports Mr Narendra Modi throughout, whether it is GST, note-bandi, or in Parliament in different bills," he said.
Asked about his target in the state, he said he wanted to "take Odisha out of one-man bureaucratic regime and hand it to the people of Odisha".
Mr Patnaik, who had been an ally of the BJP in the past, has supported the BJP government in parliament on many issues. He was sought by both sides of the political spectrum for alliance, but he said his party would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election alone.
In 2014 general election, Mr Patnaik's party had produced a stellar performance, winning 20 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats.
Mr Gandhi's party -- that recently won the elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- is struggling with alliances. Weeks after Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav dumped the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, the party's talks in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal also fell flat. The party that was hoping for an anti-BJP alliance across India, had to rope in Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Uttar Pradesh to reinvigorate its campaign.
With inputs from agencies
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