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BJD rally eyes polls

Bhubaneswar, July 30: Keeping the ensuing polls in mind, BJD’s youth and students’ wing today targeted the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre at a rally for “neglecting” Orissa.

The party members adopted a resolution to organise economic blockades and rail roko andolan from September to protest the Centre’s national mineral policy and delay in revision of coal and mineral royalty at the BJD Vikash Samavesh today.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik lambasted JMM’s demand for the inclusion of three Orissa districts in Shibu Soren’s vision of a “Greater Jharkhand” that the UPA government has reportedly agreed to consider. The BJD chief dubbed the demand as a “conspiracy” against Orissa.

Describing the state’s youths as “agents of change”, Naveen called upon the young workers to spread messages of peace and development to masses. The afternoon rally was attended by all senior BJD leaders, ministers and MPs. However, party secretary general Damodar Rout, sacked minister Debasis Nayak and former Speaker Maheshwar Mohanty of the Assembly were conspicuous by their absence. Addressing the pre-election rally, Naveen pointed out to Orissa’s “new climate” created in the past eight years by the BJD-BJP rule with focus on agriculture, industry and irrigation. An agitated chief minister pointed out to the crowd that Orissa had added 7MT steel production capacity to the present level of 1MT. He brought to the audience’s notice, the proposed IT investment region that would create employment for four lakh people by 2011-12.

“Mineral-rich Orissa has been badly affected by the national mineral policy. The policy ignores value-addition of mineral resources and delays the revision of coal and mineral royalty,” he roared at the rally. He added that the state exchequer was incurring a revenue loss of Rs 6,000 crore every year due to the non-revision of the royalty.

“To add to it, the UPA does not release adequate funds, hindering development. But the government has launched schemes out of its own resources to help out. We will also launch a scheme to provide rice for Rs 2 per kg from August 1,” he reminded all.

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