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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: With the general elections inching closer in Odisha, the ruling-BJD has now shifted its focus towards the 33 assembly seats reserved for the scheduled tribes (ST).

The Chief Minister today inaugurated worship sites, tribal cultural clubs and weekly village markets (hat) while holding discussions with members of special development council of nine tribal dominated districts through video conferencing. During the event, Patnaik also granted artisan cards to over 25,000 tribal artists from across the State.

With tribal votes considered to play a vital role in the upcoming elections, talks are doing rounds that the ruling party is going all out to win the tribal vote bank.

SC/ST Development Minister, Ramesh Majhi said the main aim to open tribal cultural clubs and weekly-hats is to conserve the traditions of tribals and propagate tribal languages.

However, the Opposition has sharply criticized the BJD for raking up tribal issues just to take mileage for the upcoming polls.

Alleging the special development council as illegal, the BJP today moved the Odisha Governor and submitted a memorandum.

Odisha BJP Vice President Sameer Mohanty said, “The ruling party is trying to fool the tribals by giving them clothes and musical instruments at a time when they are unable to even afford basic necessities like food and house. It is clear that the ruling party is doing all this to garner votes during elections.”

Similarly, Congress leader Suresh Routray said “Despite ruling the State for last 19 years, they (BJD) had never cared for the welfare of tribals, but now all of a sudden, they have started to worry about the tribals just to win votes.”

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