Odishatv Bureau

Berhampur: A day before the maiden visit of Chief minister Naveen Patnaik to the famous Thakurani Yatra of Ganjam district, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s trip to the fete triggered a political slugfest  today on the 27th day of the biennial religious extravaganza.

Though the Petroleum minister stated that he prayed for the State, it is said that his visit is the beginning of BJP’s ground work to capture the Ganjam district. The national party had performed dismally in recently concluded zilla parishad elections. "I offered prayer to the goddess for Odisha’s development”, Pradhan said after having darshan.

Local wing of the saffron party considered the minister's visit as a move to spread a message that the national party always sticks with common people through thick and thin."We want to give a message that BJP is always a partner in the life of common people. The party has always been a part of this community religious fair", a local BJP leader- Kanhucharan- said.

BJP national president Amit Shah's scheduled visit to the coastal district in June also clearly sent the message to the public that the party is on the prowl to grab the BJD bastion.

BJD, on the other hand, averred that it will continue to maintain its supremacy on the district. "Ganjam is a BJD bastion. We are strong enough there as people have faith in the leadership of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. We believe in developmental work and are least concerned about anybody's visit to the district for any purpose", said Pradeep Panigrahi, a local BJD MLA and State’s Higher Education minister.

Speculation began that BJP has commenced its ground work with the darshan of goddess Budhi Thakurani to capture the southern district. The national party had managed to acquire only four zilla parishad seats while BJD captured as many as 63 zones out of total 69 in the district.