When Suman Bery, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog called upon Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik he was not really surprised when Patnaik reminded him of Odisha’s long standing demand of being accorded a special category status. But, what was unique this time was Patnaik’s tone — it was non-pleading. Naveen babu believes it is Odisha’s right to be given special category status as the state has been devastated by repeated cyclones. Ever since Biju Janata Dal split from BJP in 2009 Patnaik has been the lone crusader fighting for the special status without any success. What is new this time is Naveen’s request to the Centre for expanding railway infrastructure, extending banking facilities to rural pockets and providing telecommunication services in the remotest part of the state. Naveen knows that Odisha cannot qualify for a special category status which is presently restricted to North Eastern three hilly states by the Finance Commission. The message CM is trying to drive is asking the Centre to revisit/redefine special status criteria, so that less developed criteria suiting Odisha should be given special dispensation or the centre provides monetary equivalent of a special category status. Political observers say Patnaik has consistently supported Modi in all issues, and it is in Modi’s interest to reciprocate lest Patnaik joins chorus with the Opposition parties.