Rourkela strongman and former BJP MLA Dilip Ray, who quit the saffron party on a bitter note last year, praised Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik saying he has improved tourism potential through sports while improving temple infrastructure in the state.
Ray, who was one of the founding members of the BJD in the nineties and a protégé of former CM Biju Patnaik, had parted ways with the regional party. Ray is a business tycoon and hotelier, who has also served in the Centre as Union Minister for coal, steel, parliamentary affairs, animal husbandry and food processing.
Now praising the CM, Ray said in a beach festival at Gopalpur, “I want to thank Naveen Babu and the state government…they have taken Odisha tourism forward. For the first time, they brought World Hockey here. You open any magazine and now you see an article on Odisha”.
“He (Naveen) is doing another great work by making improvements to Jagannath Temple, Lingaraj Temple and Konark (temple)”, Ray added, also claiming “no resident of Odisha or lover of Jagannath can forget this (gesture)”. He also reminded the audience of his past ties with Biju Patnaik.
The comment has prompted chatter as to whether the leader will return to BJD, which is currently serving its fifth continuous stint in the state.
On Ray’s comments, some BJD leaders say the party’s crushing majority in the state assembly is expected to help bag four Rajya Sabha seats that will become vacant next year, for which there is intense lobbying from within and outside the party.