Mrunal Manmay Dash

Freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai’s village at Khinda in Sambalpur witnessed an unprecedented crowd on Monday. The occasion was his birth anniversary and political parties including the BJD and BJP left no stone unturned to make a supposedly social meeting look like a political show of strength.

While the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) meeting included party heavyweights like Naba Das, Pratap Jena, Niranjan Bishi and Nalini Pradhan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held a rally and a meeting with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Nitesh Gangadeb, Nauri Nayak and Rabi Nayak in the village.

Speaking to reporters, Dharmendra Pradhan said, “We want the new generation to know the sacrifice Veer Surendra Sai had made. In order to do that, we will include his life story in the National Education Policy (NEP)."

Ruling-BJD MLA, Pratap Jena said "Sai was in jail for 37 years out of the 75 years he lived. I wish his struggles and sacrifices for the Country inspires the next generation."

Both the parties began their public address after garlanding the bust of Surendra Sai established in his village before undertaking huge road shows that prompted criticism from intellectuals of western Odisha.

Senior journalist, Shivachankar Nanda said, “It is a good thing if they really want to remember our heroes on their birth anniversary. But when they promise something to the people of our hero's village, we want those promises reflect on the ground."

While the power show at Khinda is the first of its kind after Dhamnagar and Padampur bypolls, it is said that many such shows will be witnessed in the near future as we head for the big battle in 2024.

(Reported By Sanjay Jena, OTV)