Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Congress today asserted that the dawn-to-dusk bandh observed by the party to protest against the inaction of State and Centre over the construction of dams and barrages by Chhattisgarh on the upstream of the Mahanadi river, was a complete success even as the BJD and BJP claimed that the shutdown was ‘impact-less.’.
Addressing a press conference in the afternoon, PCC president Prasad Harichandan thanked the people of Odisha for making it a success. “I thank the people of Odisha, who joined the call for the shutdown and made it a success. We are overwhelmed with the spontaneous participation of people from all walks of life in the bandh,” Harichandan said.
He also thanked all bar associations, traders’ associations, bus and truck associations and other organisations for extending support to the party’s move.
The PCC chief alleged that the State government had made all efforts to thwart the bandh. “The government left no stone unturned to foil the bandh, but failed to do so. Around 3,000 activists were detained by police during the bandh. Violence at some places are a mere reflection of the people’s anger,” he alleged.
Harichandan added that the party has planned a long term agitation over the Mahanadi issue. “The struggle of the Congress party is for every drop of Mahanadi water,” he asserted.
Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the citizens during the shutdown. “But, we have to deal with these hardship in the larger interest of the State,” Mishra said..
On the other hand, BJD claimed that bandh has had no impact on the people of the State. “You must have seen how the Congress workers vandalised public properties and roamed holding ‘lathis’ in city areas. Naturally, people panicked and decided to remain indoors for sometime. It had no impact in rural areas,” BJD spokesperson Surya Narayan Patro said.
The second reason for the lukewarm response to the bandh was that the Congress party was itself responsible for the constructions by the Chhattisgarh government, Patro claimed. ” The Central Water Commissioner (CWC) had given go-ahead to some projects in Chhattisgarh, which have already been completed now, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power in Centre. So, it is responsible for these constructions,” he added.
BJP slammed both the BJD and Congress for doing politics over the Mahanadi water. “The Congress has become completely aimless. Its main concern is to cover up its own intra-party squabbles,” BJP State general secretary Prthivraj Harichandan said.
Hitting out at the chief minister, he said; “Naveen Patnaik perhaps has gone back on his commitment to fight till his last drop of blood,” he said.
The BJP leader alleged that Odisha government does not want that the dispute should be settled amicably. “The BJD delegation, which has returned from the neighbouring State recently, received all support from Chhattisgarh officials though it had no legal sanctity. It only goes to prove that Chhatisgarh government wants to resolve the matter amicably. We hope Odisha would come forward in this regard,” the saffron party leader pointed out.
Normal life was thrown out of gear in most parts of the State due to the 12-hour bandh observed by the grand old party protesting against “unilateral” construction on river Mahanadi by Chhattisgarh.
Congress supporters blocked railway tracks and roads at many places. Several trains were halted at various stations, including Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Cuttack, and a large number of passengers were left stranded at railway stations and bus stops.
Shops, business establishments, markets, educational institutions were closed in most parts of the state as Congress supporters picketed to enforce the bandh, police said.
Tight security arrangements were made to prevent any untoward incident, and several Congress supporters were held in the capital city when they tried to proceed towards the state secretariat, a police official said.
Apart from Bhubaneswar, the impact of the bandh was also felt in Cuttack, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Bhawanipatna, Angul, Kendrapara, Balangir, Talcher and Dhenkanal, officials said.