Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday responded to remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders over his health condition ahead of the last phase of simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.

In a video message posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Patnaik stated that “political leaders from outside are coming here and attacking me at a personal level, making hurtful statements, even using abusive language”.

“You know it very well that I never disrespect anyone or make hurtful remarks against anyone ever. I’m sure, all of you, especially the women and youth, will give a befitting reply to them on 1st June during the voting,” said Patnaik.

Hands under scrutiny

The response from the septuagenarian five-time Chief Minister came hours after Modi said at a rally in Mayurbhanj that “every well-wisher of Patnaik is worried at the sudden deterioration of his health in the last year. Is there any lobby behind this? After our Government is formed in Odisha, a special committee will be formed to investigate this issue and bring out the complete truth,” said Modi.

The Prime Minister’s remark on Patnaik’s health condition came a day after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma alleged that BJD leader VK Pandian was controlling even Patnaik’s hand movements. After Sarma shared a video to prove his allegations, Patnaik had responded saying that “the BJP, which is known to make non-issues into issues, is discussing my hands. This will certainly not work”.

In his efforts to dispel the BJP’s attack against him from the beginning of the election campaign over his health condition, Patnaik had walked up to the polling booth in Bhubaneswar to cast his vote on May 25. He has been addressing rallies in different constituencies to seek votes for his party nominees. Pandian is also campaigning telling people that the BJP’s attack on Patnaik and him was an old narrative which the saffron party had used in the previous elections in 2014 and 2019.

Voting narrative

Apart from Modi, a host of BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath and Biswa Sarma visited Odisha to take on the BJD. Modi, who had termed Patnaik as “friend” in February and “popular Chief Minister” in March, is inviting people to attend the swearing-in ceremony of a BJP Chief Minister at Bhubaneswar on June 10.

The BJD has announced to hold the swearing-in ceremony on June 9. The party has claimed that it would secure three-fourth majority in the 147 State Assembly seats and improve its performance as regards the Lok Sabha seats. The party had bagged 12 Lok Sabha and 112 Assembly seats in 2019.

Political analysts feel that the BJD has an edge over its rivals in the last phase polls in Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur parliamentary constituencies and 42 Assembly seats under them due to strong support of women voters and division of opposition votes among the BJP and the Congress, which remains strong in certain regions.