Odisha to witness high-voltage drama with Modi, Naveen set to lock horns

Bhubaneswar: Day by day as we inch closer to the general elections, the political environment in Odisha seems to be getting charged with two heavyweights clashing tomorrow. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be unveiling a slew of projects in Baripada followed by a massive public rally tomorrow, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, interestingly on the same day, will be addressing a Women SHG meeting organised by his party in Puri.

As per sources, PM Modi will inaugurate and lay foundation stones of several projects worth over Rs 4,500 crore during a special function at Police High School ground in Baripada tomorrow. The entire BJP camp is excited to welcome him for the second time in less than a fortnight for the Swabhiman Samabesh here. Ahead of the mega public rally, two Union Ministers- Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan visited the place for an inspection and the party also organised a bike rally in Baripada today.

Speaking to media at the rally, Pradhan launched a scathing attack on CM Naveen and said, “It has become a habit of the ruling-BJD to lie and keep people in dark. PM Modi, during his last visit, had not just raised the issue of irrigation projects, but also highlighted drinking water crisis and corruption in various sectors. Why is the CM silent? This is nothing but a strategy to hide inefficiency.”

On the other hand, BJD is organising a Mission Shakti programme in Puri tomorrow that somehow is being seen as a strategy to counter the PM’s visit. Preparations for the same are in full flow as Odisha CM will provide Rs 15,000 to each Self Help Group (SHG) along with Rs 3,000 for smart phones he had promised during the Make in Odisha Conclave in order to digitally empower the women of the State. This apart, the CM will also provide financial aid of Rs 25 lakh to 11 federations in the district.

However, the BJD denied the event to be a counter-attack claiming it as a government programme.

Party spokesperson Sameer Dash said, “As many as 27,000 SHGs have been created recently in Puri district. The event is being organised to offer assistance to new members and provide seed money to the existing ones. This is completely a government programme and not meant to counter anyone.”

Meanwhile, criticizing the events being organized on the same day, Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik said, “There is a secret alliance between the BJD and BJP. They might give statements against each other here, but in Delhi, they are one.”

Well, only time will tell whether speculations of Modi contesting from Puri constituency made any impact on the ruling-BJD, but the fact that BJP has already declared Odisha as a priority State for the upcoming general elections, it has sounded the poll bugle loud and clear.

BJP national president Amit Shah is also scheduled to visit Odisha on January 18, two days after Prime Minister’s public meeting at Bolangir on the 16th of January.