BJP sharpens attack on BJD; alleges Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik ‘is controlled like a puppet’

BJP leaders allege Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has been isolated with no one being allowed to come closer him

Updated - May 13, 2024 01:03 pm IST

Published - May 13, 2024 12:47 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik

Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik | Photo Credit: PTI

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) on Monday accused Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders of producing a deepfake video of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik by using artificial intelligence and emphasised the need to rescue of Mr. Patnaik from “isolation”.

Even as the fourth phase of elections (Odisha’s first) is underway, the State BJP stepped up its attack on the BJD by raising the ability of Odisha CM to function independently.

Not the same person, says Panda

In a press conference, BJP’s state president Manmohan Samal, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP national vice president Baijyant Panda and Members of Parliament Aparajita Sarangi questioned Mr. Patnaik’s fitness.

“It is a matter of grave concern the way the State government has been outsourced. The person who was elected by people of Odisha five years ago has been made captive. He is controlled like a puppet,” said Mr. Panda, in an apparent reference to V.K. Pandian, a close aide of Mr. Patnaik, and his influence on the State government.

“Whenever Mr. Patnaik is appearing to deliver video messages, the majority of these videos were not of him. This clearly indicates artificial intelligence tools were used to bring out his deepfake videos,” he alleged.

The senior BJP leader added that “everyone should think about the condition of Odisha CM before the year 2018 and now. He was not the same person what he was before 2018. Now, he is controlled by one person. This is a matter of sadness personally for me as my family and the family of the late Biju Patnaik relished a close bond for a long time. ”

“If he [Mr. Patnaik] is able to repeat his own video message physically on a public platform, one can easily detect the difference. People have the right to know if Mr. Patnaik is himself giving video messages or being dictated by one person,” he said.

“Whenever Mr. Patnaik is appearing in public, only one person is seen surrounding him and holding mike for him. The man is visible in helicopter, in front of cameras and even on stage. We should ask question as to why BJD leaders from Odisha are not found around him,” asked Mr. Panda.

He further asserted, “the Odia asmita [pride] was hurt after Odisha CM was captured by one person and the keys of Ratna Bhandar [inner treasury of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri] got lost during that time. It was not lost earlier.”

‘One person has hijacked governance in Odisha’

When asked if BJP would move the Election Commission of India over its allegations, Mr. Panda said, “The person who is controlling Odisha CM is creating his videos using AI technology. There is a hell and heaven difference between his speeches on public platforms and in videos. It is clear to me in naked eyes. We will get the videos technically examined and bring out a report on it. Subsequently, we will take step what deems fit.”

Echoing similar sentiment, BJP national spokesperson Ms. Sarangi said, “One person has hijacked governance in Odisha. The man has isolated the Odisha CM by not letting other Odisha leaders come closer to Mr. Patnaik. Cabinet Ministers, Chief Secretary and Director General of Police could not meet Odisha CM without the permission of this person during past five years.”

Mr. Pradhan alleged, “Odisha CM just follows piece of paper handed over to him. He has no idea what is the basis of the statement he is asked to read out. This is the helplessness we are concerned about.”

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