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Odisha Congress leaders to meet Prez, PM and Sonia

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Saturday said its leaders would meet President, Prime Minister, Finance Minister and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to press for special category status for the state.

"We will meet Prime Minister, Congress President and others to press Odisha's demand of a special category state status," OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik told reporters after the ruling BJD called for a 12-hour bandh demanding special category status and against the alleged central negligence towards Odisha.

Stating that Congress MLAs were first to move a notice seeking passage of a resolution in the assembly on special category status for the state, Patnaik said opposition members had supported the resolution passed in the house.

Patnaik said Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had already hinted at modification of norms for according special category status to any state. "Odisha has all the criteria to be granted special category state status except having an international border," he said.

"We hope that the union government would delete the provision of having international border in order to give the special category state status to Odisha," he said.

Congress, however, rejected Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's allegation that the UPA government allocated inadequate funds to Odisha under BRGF (Backward Region Grant Fund) on political consideration.

Dubbing Naveen Patnaik's government as "inefficient" the OPCC President claimed that Bihar could get more funds despite being ruled by a non-Congress party. "Therefore, the allegation of giving grant on political consideration is not right," Patnaik said.

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