Odisha minister slams politics of religion bjp questions conduct

Odisha minister slams politics of religion bjp questions conduct
Odisha Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain speaks at a function in Cuttack on Thursday. (Twitter/@rajaaswain)

Odisha’s Consumer Welfare and Food Supplies Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain on Thursday drew a sharp response from the BJP for his remarks on “politics of religion” and criticism of Maharashtra’s Governor’s office, during BJD’s celebration of 104th birth anniversary of former chief minister Biju Patnaik in Cuttack.

Speaking at the function in Cuttack, Swain said, “Biju Patnaik was committed to Mahatama Gandhi’s principles. Today those principles are under attack. The society is going to be divided. Some are up to all sorts of wrong things in politics. On October 19, Maharashtra had its elections. Maharashtra Governor’s office became a party office.

“Then what happened? Maharashtra saw a regime change. Then they said we will go to Jharkhand and win 65 out of 81 seats. What happened? People did not even give 25 seats. Then they said we will go to Delhi. What happened in Delhi?” the minister said in a clear reference to the BJP.

“Political signals are now coming through that the country is being divided politically and on economic grounds. Those who are trying to break society should remember that there cannot be politics on the basis of religion,” Swain warned, adding, “Naveen Patnaik will guide us. We will not allow society to be divided. We are committed to battle politics that uses religion.”

BJP’s Odisha unit responded with party spokesperson Golak Mohapatra saying, “There was a state government programme in Cuttack. But the minister’s political statement is against the Constitution. This is condemnable. We oppose it.

“Saying that the BJP plays politics of religion, from a government platform, and by a minister… the minister has criticised Maharashtra’s Governor and this has happened in the presence of CM (Naveen Patnaik),” Mohapatra added.

“Odisha government should clarify whether this was a party programme or state government programme. How did a minister make such statements? We need an explanation. Have they created a political controversy to hide their failures?” he asked.

Doubling down on his remarks, Swain later tweeted that he made some “remarks on the spirit of co-operative federalism which are extremely important for a healthy Centre-state relationship.”

He also added, “One should not make a mountain out of a molehill”.

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