Saswat Singhdeo

Kandhamal/Bhubaneswar: A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party extended its support to Odisha shutdown call given by farmers’ outfit Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) on February 21, the State Congress also said that they will support the bandh for price, pension and prestige.

State BJP President Basant Panda said the saffron party will extend support to NNKS, which has been demanding pension and proper price to the agricultural produce. “The farmers have the right to express their opinion and protest in a democracy. The state government has time and again tried to throttle the voice of the farmers. We will protest the anti-farmer policies,” said Panda.

Similarly, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik today informed that the Congress party would support the bandh called by NNKS while claiming that empowerment of the farmers remains top priority of the Congress.

Meanwhile in Kandhamal, the Maoists put up posters near Budaguda chhak in Baliguda area supporting the bandh. A few other posters were found in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been held responsible for the Pulwama attack.

The Odisha government has urged NNKS to desist from going on Odisha bandh on 21st February.

State Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera said, "The Opposition parties don't have any other issue to raise. Odisha government is trying to fulfill the demands of the farmers & the bandh call given by NNKS will cause inconvenience for the students appearing matriculation exam."

The NNKS has called for a statewide bandh on February 21 to protect the interest of farmers. The outfit has been demanding price, prestige and pension for the farmers in the state. They have been demanding a security allowance of Rs 5,000 per month for the farmers. They have also sought cooperation from truck and bus associations urging them to keep their vehicles off the road during the bandh.

Later in the day, Odisha government in a statement stated that it had appealed Naba Nirmak Krushak Sangathan yesterday to desist from the agitation in the interest of nearly 6 lakh students and their parents who are gearing up for the annual matriculation examination starting from February 22.

“If the sangathan still persists with their planned Bandh programme, the State government will be compelled to take all necessary measures to ensure smooth conduct of the examination. Action will be taken as per provisions of Law. It is hoped that the organisers will realise their action could cause inconvinence to public especially to the students’ community and withdraw their bandh call in larger public interest,” Odisha government said in a statement.