Odisha minister in a spot over 'opportunity in BJP MLA's death' remark

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Bhubaneswar, Oct 24 (PTI) Senior BJD leader and Odisha minister Ranendra Pratap Swain has courted controversy by saying in a poll meeting that the people of Balasore have got an opportunity to herald development in the death of the local BJP MLA.

'Development of Balasore could not reach the required level as people voted against the BJD. Now, the opportunity has come through God and people should utilise this,' Swain said while campaigning for the BJD candidate there.

The BJP condemned the food supplies and consumer welfare minister's 'insensitive' comment.

Swain, who did not find any support from his own party, later said that his comment was blown out of proportion and he had no intention to hurt anyone.

By-poll will be held in Balasore on November 3. It was necessitated by the death of BJP MLA Madan Mohan Dutta.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, P K Naik of the BJP, on Saturday termed Swain's statement as an insult to the people of Balasore.

'How the death of a sitting opposition MLA could become an opportunity for a minister? His statement is insensitive and lacks political decorum. The people of Balasore will give a befitting reply to such remarks,' Naik said.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, while addressing an election meeting, also denounced Swain's remarks made on Friday.

'It is really unfortunate and not healthy for democracy. The untimely demise of a person is never an opportunity. Ego had led to the downfall of Ravana and Duryodhana. The BJD will face the same fate in Odisha. People of Balasore have complete faith in the BJP,' Pradhan said.

BJP candidate Manas Ranjan Dutta, son of the deceased legislator, said, 'I am utterly saddened by his statement. I am deeply hurt to hear that my father's death created an opportunity for the minister.' Under fire, Swain said that Manas is like his son and 'if he is hurt, I am deeply saddened'.

In a series of tweets, he said, 'I am deeply saddened by the turn of events and my statement is being blown out of proportion. I have nothing but deepest respect and admiration for Sri Madan Mohan Dutta.' 'I shared a very close relationship with Sri Madan Mohan Dutta and our friendship transcends our political affiliation. I never have any intention of hurting anybody's sentiments with any of my statements, especially for Sri Manas Dutta,' he tweeted.

Besides Dutta, Tirtol's BJD MLA B C Das also died recently and by-poll will also be held in that constituency on November 3. PTI AAM NN NN