Himansu Shekhar Rout

Ahead of the General elections, the Odisha government with an eye on new young voters has been launching one programme after another.

After Nua O and the scholarship offer to college students, the Higher Education department has launched Odisha Darshan Programme under which students associated with the National Service Scheme (NSS) cell will be taken on tours to various places and universities in the state. 

The opposition parties have smelt politics in the latest scheme to grab young voters. The number of new voters is said to be over 7 lakh in the state, as per the Election Commission of India.   

Initially, 300 students of the NSS were taken on tours to various religious places and universities. They will visit Chandipur, Harishankar, Nrisghanath, Maa Tarini Peetha, Konark, JM University and Sambalpur University. Six buses have been engaged for the programme which will continue till February 20. All its expenses will be borne by the government.  

Student Manish Budhia, who took part in the tour, said, ” Visiting new places helps students to gain an insight into culture, tradition and to interact with people and how they are living.” 
As for the programme, Dushmant Sahu, programme officer said, ”NSS is active at the college level. As NSS students are involved in various activities, they are given priority.”  

The Opposition parties have questioned the intention of the government in introducing such a scheme at a time when students are to appear for their examination in a few days. 

Congress Spokesperson Nishikant Mishra observed, ”Youth are now inclined towards Congress after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. When examinations are underway, launching such a programme is definitely a political move to grab their votes. This is the only purpose.”   
Taking a dig at the state government for this programme, BJP spokesperson Manoj Mohapatra said, “The government is well aware that it is going to face the wrath of women, youth and other sections of the society in the coming elections. This scheme is meant to divert the attention of the youth. The government will not succeed in its move. People know that they are being exploited. This is nothing but a bribe scheme at the end of every five years.”     

Higher Education Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said, "Students need to know about various places to gain knowledge about heritage and culture. Opposing everything is the work of the Opposition parties.”

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