With the 2024 elections nearing, politics reportedly picked up pace over pending demands for district status to various regions in Odisha. The demand for district status to Padampur in Bargarh district is at the forefront. The Opposition parties are on their toes to politically cash in on the prickly issue, even though the government has gone one step closer in the process to carve out Padampur as a separate district.
On the other hand, various outfits observed a 12-hour bandh over demand for district status to Kantabanji in Bolangir, just a day after the government initiated the process to tag Padampur as a district. The demand for the district status to Titlagarh is being raised. Titilagarh Zilla Action Committee, an outfit, has called for a 12-hour Titlagarh bandh on December 7.
What is now adding fuel to the issue vigorously are the statements and observations by political parties.
Not only Padampur and Kantabanji, but the demand for district status to 23 more regions in Odisha is being raised. As per information put forth by the state government in the Assembly, proposals for district status have been received from 25 places including Bhubaneswar, Dharmagarh, Athagarh, Nilagiri, and Gunupur.
Well ahead of the by-poll to Padampur, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in February 2023 promised to the people to declare it a district by December 2023. On Monday, the government allegedly woke up to the issue when the RDC of the northern range visited Padampur and inspected three places for the collector's office.
Suresh Chandra Dalai, Revenue Divisional Commissioner(RDC), Nothern Range, said that a report on the site selection will be given to the government.
Opposition parties, which are reportedly keen to make it an important issue, perceived such an attempt of the government as a tactical move to pacify the brewing resentment among people demanding the district status to Padampur at a time when the elections are only less than five months away.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scared of the BJP’s comeback to power in the neighboring Chhattisgarh and has sent the RDC in a hurry to mislead people. The Congress has also lambasted the government for its delaying tactic on district status to Padampur.
Pradip Purohit, BJP leader, said, “Because of the unexpected electoral shock in Chhattisgarh, Naveen Patnaik hurriedly sent the RDC to Padampur in a bid to mislead people in the issue of district status. The CM has taken the votes of the Padampur people on the promise of district status. Now, the BJD has started a new tactic to mislead the people. I demand he should declare the region a district by December.”
Also Read: CM Naveen Patnaik targets Union Ministers; assures district status to Padampur within a year
Congress legislator Santosh Singh Saluja said that 24 years have passed, and not a single district has been created in the state. "The government should grant district status to at least 12 places as proposed,” he added.
On the other hand, the ruling BJD has countered the allegations. BJD legislator Prasanta Muduli said, "No one dares to raise fingers at the Chief Minister in the matter of fulfilling the people’s aspirations and promises. He has always been thinking about the welfare of the people."