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Devbrat Patnaik

Berhampur: Today on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, which is also observed as the Martyrs' Day, the Congress has made arrangements for a huge public rally in the silk city to pay homage to the father of the nation, but the restrictions imposed by the government is allegedly posing a hindrance to the grand event.

On the occasion, Congress members and senior party leaders including State in-charge A Chellakumar, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik and former Pradesh Congress chiefs are scheduled to attend the event at Berhampur's Khallikote College Stadium to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. This apart, the party had expected participation of around 7000 workers for a bike rally in the city.

Even as the Congress and the new Ganjam district president Ramesh Jena is pulling out all the stops to show its strength and make the event a grand success, the restrictions imposed by the government in view of Covid pandemic seem to have derailed the plan to some extent.

According to sources, the government has not given permission for bike rally and padayatra. Moreover, those keen to participate in the event have been asked to undergo RT-PCR test, which means Covid negative certificate is mandatory for all the attendees of the rally. Further, the maximum number of participants has been capped at 1500, mentioned government orders.

Following this, the Congress came down heavily on the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government questioning how the ruling party was allowed to organise large gatherings in Kalahandi and other areas of the State. "Earlier this month, when CM Naveen attended a public rally in Kalahandi, more than 10,000 people had congregated throwing all the Covid norms to the wind. But Congress cannot organise rallies. The administration is terrified over the rising popularity of the Congress," senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said.

"Lakhs of people had gathered in the farmers' agitation in Delhi. How many were subjected to Covid test there? Kalahandi is witnessing fresh Covid cases almost every day. If thousands of people can gather in Kalahandi for CM programme, what is stopping administration to grant permission to Congress to go ahead with the rally? Why are there so many limitations for us? It's not possible to get reports of so many people in such a short span of time. This shows how the government is trying to torture the Congressmen," the Jeypore MLA alleged.

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was gunned down by Nathuram Godse and the day is observed as Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs' Day.

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