Will Rahul Gandhi’s back-to-back visits stir Congress in Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: With the AICC president Rahul Gandhi making back-to-back visits to Odisha, speculations are doing rounds over the effect of such visits on the grand old party’s prospects in Odisha ahead of the 2019 general elections. After holding marathon public meetings at Bhawanipatna and Rourkela on Wednesday, the Congress chief is also scheduled to make another visit, most likely to a southern part of Odisha later this month.

After victories in the Hindi heartland, the Congress president’s farmer-centric poll sops and income guarantee promise to the middle class have charged the State politics. An elated Anurag Kerketta, a youth of Bhawanipatna who received a guarantee card from Rahul Gandhi said that if the Congress gets back to power he is fully confident, that the party will work for the farmers and the middle class.

If Congress can do it (waive off farm loans) in Chhattisgarh, then it can certainly execute that for the welfare of the farming community in Odisha, said another Bhawanipatna local.

Rahul’s campaign in western Odisha may have enthused party workers but the recent exits of two senior leaders Jogesh Singh and Naba Das from the party, raises questions whether it would be enough for the party.

The BJD stated that announcement of welfare schemes by Rahul Gandhi are just poll-oriented while the saffron party is of the view that the Congress president’s visits to Odisha will have no impact.

“Rahul Gandhi fulfilled all the promises that he made in the three states after the party was voted to power. So the people of the State have confidence in him and this will pave way for a new government in Odisha which will be led by the Congress,” said party leader Tara Bahinipati.

“This is just a political stunt. As elections get nearer, leaders make many promises to woo voters. So Rahul’s promises have no base,” said BJD MLA, Pushpendra Singh Deo.

BJP MLA, Pradip Purohit said it will have no impact on the farmers. “Today, if the farming community is suffering then only the Congress party is to be blamed,” said Purohit.