Rahul Gandhi’s 2nd visit to Odisha in 12 days puts BJP & BJD on toes

Repeated visits of political heavyweights have heated up the political scene in Odisha but the undeterred ruling-BJD is confident of claiming more seats in 2019 polls

Bhubaneswar: After the unexpected firing of salvo by Rahul Gandhi at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his maiden visit to Odisha on January 25 after becoming AICC president, speculation of another attack by the young Congress chief during his February 6 visit to the State is rife.

Tomorrow will be Rahul’s second visit to Odisha within a span of 12 days. As per the official itinerary, the AICC chief will address public gatherings at Bhawanipatna and Rourkela in Kalahandi and Sundergarh districts respectively. During his visit, he is likely to rake up farmers’ issue and once again highlight the failures of the BJD and BJP governments.

Speaking on the visit of Rahul Gandhi, senior party leader of Odisha Congress Bhakta Das said that this will be the first visit of Rahul to the KBK region in nine years and so, people have high expectations from him. Party members and people of as many as nine districts will gather at the public meeting in Bhawanipatna, he said.

“All the people of KBK region and western Odisha are upbeat about Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the region. People are asking for 10-20 vehicles for each village to reach the meeting venue,” said Das, adding that Congress’ impact in villages of western and southern Odisha will be huge- similar to that the party is having in the villages of neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

After the back-to-back visits of PM Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah to Odisha, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari will also be visiting Odisha tomorrow. Though the Road Transport and Highways minister is likely to lay the foundation stone for projects worth Rs 2,345 crore in Dhenkanal district, it is believed that his visit is part of the saffron party’s strategy to take on the AICC chief.

Moreover, Amit Shah will also be visiting Odisha on February 15- it will be his second visit to the State this year. “Amit Shah will visit Sambalpur on February 15 and address people and karyakartas (party workers) of four Lok Sabha  constituencies (Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Sundergarh), informed Odisha BJP president Basant Panda, adding that BJP will reach out to people and highlight the failures and 19-year of misgovernance of the ruling-BJD.

During Rahul’s January 25 visit, Congress MLA Naba Das joined the BJD and a similar strategy has been chalked out reportedly by the BJD  tomorrow. This time, it would be former Congress MLA from Sundergarh Jogesh Singh who will be welcomed to the BJD fold.

Meanwhile, the BJD has said that people of Odisha are not fools and nothing can mislead them. “The repeated visits of the BJP and the Congress’ top brass will have no impact, these are simply exposing their fear. They (BJP & BJD) are aware of Naveen Patnaik’s influence and BJD’s organisational strength in western Odisha,” said senior BJD leader Puspendra Singh Deo.