Mr Swain, while addressing party workers on Thursday, observed that the death of sitting BJP MLA Madan Mohan Dutta had come as an opportunity for the BJD to reclaim the seat and restart the development activities in the constituency.
“For some reasons, Balasore Sadar had gone away from us. Now, through God, the opportunity has come for us. We’ll restart developmentin Balasore Sadar,” Ranendra said, making an indirect reference to the untimely death of Madan Mohan Dutta in July this year.
The BJD had lost the seat to BJP in 2019 assembly elections after holding it for nearly 15 years and it is making frantic efforts to win this in the bypoll.
Veteran BJP leader and Union minister Pratap Sarangi lashed out at Mr Swain saying the remark was highly “unsavoury” and “unwarranted.”
Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan also castigated the BJD leader. He said Mr Swain’s remark clearly exposed the lack of morality in the character of the BJD and its leaders.
In the morning, BJP candidate Manas Kumar Dutta, son of the deceased MLA, broke down while addressing a press conference to condemn the state minister’s remark.
“Ranedra Pratap Swain worked with my father in the State Assembly. His remark against my father is harsh to bear. I don’t want to be in politics,” he said, crying inconsolably.
As the BJP leaders mounted attack on Mr Swain’s remark, the latter took to Twitter to clarify his position.
“I am deeply saddened by the turn of events and my statement is being blown out of proportion. I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for Shri Madan Mohan Dutta. Manas is like my son and if he is hurt, then I am deeply saddened,” he twitted.