Bolangir (Odisha), Apr 5 (PTI) BJP President Amit Shah today accused Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik of “shielding” criminals who, he said, are involved in the killing of saffron party leaders and workers in the state.

He made this scathing allegation while addressing a BJP youth rally here.

The BJP chief has on numerous occasions said that Odisha is a focus state for his party. Elections to the 147 member Odisha assembly are due early next year. Patnaik has been in power since 2000.

The ruling BJD is resorting to political violence and over 14 of our activists have been murdered in last one and half years and their killers are moving scot-free as Naveen Patnaik is shielding them, Shah alleged.

Claiming that the BJP does not believe in violence, Shah said once his party comes to power, all the culprits will be booked and put behind the bars.

Referring to a statement made by a BJD leader on his silence on BJP’s Mission 120′ in Odisha, Shah said: “I am not mentioning 120 figure because the BJP will win more seats and form government in Odisha after 2019 elections.” Shah had earlier set a target for his party and aspired to win 120 of the 147 assembly seats in the state.

While attempting to woo the people of Bolangir and other nearby districts, Shah said that the BJP, if voted to power in the state, will give special attention towards the development of western region of Odisha.

“Naveen Patnaik has been adopting a step-motherly attitude towards western region. While the area under irrigation across the state is 33 per cent, it is only 11 per cent in western districts. This shows Naveen babu has not done justice towards the western districts,” he said.

Of the BJP’s 10 MLAs in the state, eight were elected from western region of the state in 2014. Even the lone BJP MP Jual Oram was elected from Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency, also from the western region.

During his speech, Shah focussed on poverty, lack of irrigation, fluoride-hit villages and acute migration problem of western districts.

“Naveen Babu has completely failed to arrest the migration problem as many youths are forced to go to other states in search of work,” Shah said.

In his bid to lure the farmers, Shah highlighted the NDA government’s recent announcement to raise the minimum support price (MSP) of foodgrains by one-and-a-half times of the production cost.

“The farmers of Odisha will get maximum benefit from this announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said, adding the central government has implemented as many as 116 welfare schemes in a span of four-years.

The BJP president, however, blamed the BJD government for not taking the Centre’s welfare schemes to the people in villages.

“If the Modi government is a power house, the state government is like a transformer which is burnt. As the transformer is gutted, the people are not getting benefit. The people should replace the burnt down transformer and bring the BJP to power,” he said.

Shah said Odisha will witness development only when BJP forms the government in the state. “This change of government should be for the betterment of the poor people,” he said, adding many people are stating that the BJP is passing through its golden era.

However, the BJP’s golden period will begin only after it forms government in Odisha and West Bengal.

“I see a better prospect in Odisha than in Tripura,” Shah said while appealing to the youths to become catalyst for the change.

The BJP registered a stunning victory in Tripura recently where it demolished the well-entranced Left citadel.

Earlier, the BJP president along with other senior party leaders had lunch at the house of a Dalit in Deogaon village in the western Odisha district before winding up his two-day visit to the state.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.