Pradeep Pattanayak

In the political corridors of Odisha, it is widely discussed that the consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has put paid to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s plan to make the most out of the Srimandir Parikrama project inauguration. 

Now, while the BJD is eyeing to get some advantages from the inauguration of the SAMALEI project, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Sambalpur on February 3. He is scheduled to inaugurate the permanent campus of IIM-Sambalpur and address a public meeting at Remed Ground. 

It is being discussed that Modi's meeting would eclipse the BJD’s SAMALEI project strategy. 

“The BJD inaugurated the Srimandir Parikrama project and the SAMALEI project only to counter the consecration of Ram Mandir. They didn’t have any interest. But none of their strategy would work,” said BJP MLA Nauri Nayak. 

Odisha Congress chief, Sarat Pattanayak also targeted the BJD. “The BJD government has transformed the state into a poor state in the last 25 years. Now as a wave of change is emerging, they are taking shelter behind Lord Jagannath and Maa Samalei. But if they are thinking that they would get the Western Odisha votes by doing this, it is their misconception,” said Pattanayak. 

BJD MLA and Odisha Labour Minister Sarada Nayak hit out at the BJP and Congress and said, “There should be no politics over Maa Samalei. In the past, She taught a lesson to those who were doing politics over Her. In the coming days too, She would do the same. Just wait and see.”

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With the 2024 general elections approaching, there is no denying that the three major political parties in the state have set their eyes on Western Odisha. Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi will also have a stopover in Sambalpur during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. 

Experts believe that the results of the 2019 general election stand as testimony to the fact that the Modi wave is flowing strongly in Western Odisha. 

“The Prime Minister’s visit to Western Odisha would definitely create a dent in the popularity that BJD garnered by inaugurating the SAMALEI project,” observed political analyst, Akshay Sahu.

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