Ahead of the 2024 general and Assembly elections, the Biju Janta Dal (BJD) has reportedly decided to resume its anti-Centre stand and raise certain old issues including special category status to Odisha, the Mahanadi barrages in the upstream and Polavaram project.
A decision to this effect was taken at the ruling party’s state executive meeting held at Sankha Bhawan on Friday.
As per the decision, the party will target the Central government for its silence on the pestering issues like Mahanadi and Polavaram projects.
Besides, the BJD will raise the issues of a hike in the coal royalty, cess clearance, waiver of GST on the kendu leaves and price spiral of essential commodities before the Central government.
Social media to be a weapon to counter opposition
In another significant decision, the party has decided to weaponise social media against the opposition parties to counter their attacks, even as Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik while presiding over the meeting alleged that opposition parties are left with no real issues to raise and have resorted misinformation campaign against the party and the government.
Odisha's transformation, a jolt to opposition: CM
The Chief Minister has reportedly said that Odisha's transformation has turned out to be a shocker to the opposition parties and underscored the need for the party workers and functionaries to work hard at the grassroots level to counter the opposition.
Training his gun on the opposition parties, the CM observed that the people of Odisha know a thousand lies can never be the truth.
Later, addressing the media, BJD’s senior leader Debi Prasad Mishra said that the centre has been adopting its stepmotherly attitude towards Odisha. “The centre has been indifferent towards its demand for special category status, despite our repeated demands. Because of the Central apathy, we have to fight legal battle over the Mahandi and Polavaram. The party will raise its voice for its demands,” he added. He also announced that 5T chairperson VK Pandian will not fight elections.
Training programmes on cards
As part of the preparation for the upcoming elections, the BJD has decided to organise panchayat-level meetings after the celebration of the party’s foundation day. Moreover, a campaign will be launched at the grassroots level from Nataji Jayanti (January 23, 2024) up to Biju Jayanti (March 5) to highlight the achievements of the BJD government and its development agenda being executed in Odisha.
The ruling party has also decided to postpone elections to its oranisational structure by a year.
A resolution was passed at the meeting to hold constituency-wise training programmes for party workers and leaders at Sankha Bhawan, followed by zonal-level training. As per reports, as many as 32 proposals were moved at the meeting while 11 of them were political ones.
The executive body meeting was attended by presidents of the party’s frontline wings and prominent leaders of the party. Notably, the last time the BJD’s executive meeting was held in 2020.
BJP leader Golak Mohapatra countered the BJD allegations, saying that the Central government has been extending all kinds of help to the state, but the state government is not implementing certain programmes. "The Centre has provided funds more than necessary to the state government. There is no chance of negligence on behalf of the Central government,” he said.
Targeting both parties, Congress leader Bijay Patnaik said that the state government has been telling thousands of lies through advertisements. “Such lies can’t become truth through pages of advertisement. The BJD has surrendered itself to the BJP,” he observed.