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Rath stumbles on Koshal bump

Salebhata (Bolangir), April 13: The demand for a separate state of Koshal exploded on deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advaniís journey into western Orissa today.

As his motorcade stopped at Salebhata, a nondescript villages in the arid region this morning, scores of youth shouted slogans in support of a separate Koshal state and waved flags at Advani.

Advaniís tour managers had chosen the wrong village to make a stopover. Salebhata, under the Loisingha Assembly segment, is home to BJP rebel and local legislator Balgopal Mishra.

Mishra has spearheaded the movement for Koshal and is now fighting the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat. Advaniís rath, stopped in front of his house, only to find a sea of tiny yellow flags and posters, announcing their support for Mishra and a separate state.

The deputy Prime Minister and the BJPís Bolangir Lok Sabha nominee Sangeeta Singhdeo were squirming in discomfort as the clamour got louder. Advani had to wind up his address in two minutes. The police resorted to a mild lathicharge to disperse the youths.

More embarrassment was in store for Advani at Dunguripalli under Binka assembly constituency when supporters of independent candidate Nabakrushna Danta distributed leaflets and waved saffron banners demanding separate Koshal state at the cavalcade. A lathicharge was again used to bring the situation under control.

Later, Advani told reporters that the BJP was not against carving out smaller states but the demand should be backed by all political parties. A resolution, in support of the demand, should first be passed by the concerned state Assembly, he added.

Mishra, who has a formidable reputation here, said, ďItís not just a question of winning or losing. I will ask the people to vote for me so that I can raise the demand in Parliament.Ē

In the last few months, the demand for a separate Koshal state has reached fever-pitch in western Orissa.

If the deputy Prime Minister was watching closely, tiny yellow flags fluttering from several mudhouses in the poverty-stricken Bolangir district would have confirmed the fact that the cause of Koshal has struck root in this area.

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