Bhubaneswar, Jun 26 (PTI) Hitting out at ruling BJD in Odisha for announcing support to NDA’s presidential candidate even before UPA named its pick, Congress today said the move showed the regional party’s affinity to BJP and desire to protect its narrow interests. Also Read - Dozens of Priests Walk Over Women in Chhattisgarh to Bless Them With Children

“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced BJD support to NDA’s presidential candidate immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him which shows the close ties between them,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, president Prasad Harichandan told reporters here. Also Read - Chhattisgarh Constable Arrested For Inflicting Cigarette Burns on Toddler, Thrashing Woman

Dismissing Patnaik’s claim that the decision was aimed at protecting the interest of the state, Harichandan said the BJD chief is desperately trying to safeguard his own interest and that of his party by announcing support to Ram Nath Kovind, fielded by NDA for election to the top post. Also Read - Lockdown Latest News: Total Shutdown to be Imposed in 10 Districts of This State; Capital City Identified as Containment Zone

While BJD justifies its support to Kovind describing him as a dalit leader, UPA has also fielded Meira Kumar, who is not only a dalit but also a woman, for the presidential poll, the PCC chief said, asking the regional party to reconsider its decision.

Stating that BJD staged a state-wide stir in the morning against BJP-led government at the Centre over issues like demand for special category status to Odisha, Mahanadi river water dispute and MSP for paddy, Harichandan said the regional party announced support to the NDA candidate the same evening without waiting for UPA to name its pick.

If Patnaik can back NDA candidate instantly after getting a phone call from Modi, he should also get Mahanadi river water dispute with Chhattisgarh resolved and special category status tag by simply making a call to the prime minister, the Congress leader said.

Terming Patnaik’s claim that he held consultations with senior party leaders over presidential election as “misleading”, he said even some BJD leaders are now questioning the decision to back the NDA candidate in a hurry without waiting for UPA to declare its candidate.

“Though BJD claims to maintain equi-distance from BJP and Congress, its love for BJP is no more a secret. There exists a deep BJD-BJP understanding,” Harichandan said and asked BJD leaders to use their conscience while voting in the presidential election.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.