Bhubaneswar: In their bid to score over the ruling BJD candidate Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh in the by-election to the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, opposition Congress and BJP have dubbed her as a "foreigner."
Pratyusha, widow of ex-Kandhamal MP Hemendra Singh whose untimely death necessitated the by-election in Kandhamal, was born in a royal family in Nepal and married in Nayagarh royal family.
"The BJD candidate is from Nepal and cannot speak Odia. In which language will she interact with the people and solve their issues," asked senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra, who lead party's campaign for the October 15 by-elections.
BJP candidate Rudra Madhav Ray too dubbed the BJD candidate as a "foreigner" and claimed that she had never seen Kandhamal before filing her nomination papers. "How can she serve the people when she does not know them," Ray asked.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Jaydev Jena also said "The BJD nominee is a foreigner and has no relation with Kandhamal constituency. This is a people's issue and Congress is with the people."
Jena claimed that Congress aspirant Abhimanyu Behera as a 'son of the soil' and therefore acceptable for the people of Kandhamal.
The ruling BJD, however, strongly defended its candidate and said that the people understand the language of development. "Our candidate has appealed to the voters in Odia. This is a non issue. The people understand the language of development and the BJD stands for it," senior BJD leader and minister Debi Prasad Mishra said.
While opposition parties have already make "foreigner" an issue in Kandhamal by-poll, Pratyusha along with her daughter and family members has already started meeting people and sought their blessings.
Besides BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, all senior leaders of BJD will campaign for Pratyusha.