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BJD talks tough on status

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 24: The BJD today accused the UPA of short-shrifting Odisha once again while according special category state status to yet-to-be-born Seemandhra.

“Odias won’t tolerate this injustice. They will retaliate,” was the refrain as leaders spewed venom against the Centre at the youth BJD-sponsored protest dharna near Raj Bhavan. Around 300 party workers courted arrest.

BJD youth wing president Sanjay Dasburma said: “We are flabbergasted as to how Seemandhra has become eligible for the special category state tag while the same is being denied to Odisha which has been demanding this status for a long time. Ironically, this very UPA government had cited the Raghuram Rajan committee report to spike our demand for special category.”

However, the state Congress leaders sought to deflect the blow. They described the BJD’s aggressive posturing as a barely concealed election gimmick.

“They are enacting a drama on the streets. Why make a song and dance about special category status when you cannot use the central funds to develop the state which is among the poorest in the country? The Centre has conferred the special status on Seemandhra in view of the political crisis prevailing in Andhra Pradesh,” said state Congress president Jaydev Jena.

Congress veteran Narasingh Mishra said that if the chief minister was so concerned about the state being denied the status, let him call an all-party meeting on the issue. “Let him take every party into confidence,” said Mishra while explaining the award in favour of Seemandra. “When a state gets divided, some packages are invariably announced to the region affected by the bifurcation. This should not be construed as the deliberate neglect of some other state by the Centre,” said the leader.

The BJD protest coincided with the launch of a “one note, one vote” campaign by the BJP. “Both the UPA at the Centre and the BJD here are neck deep in corruption. We are launching this campaign to create a public opinion in favour of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister,” said state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo.

Besides, there is a growing speculation over the BJP tying up with smaller parties, including Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s Odisha Jan Morcha, to give shape to a grand alliance against the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD. Sources said Odisha BJP affairs in-charge Chandan Mitra was likely to reach Bhubaneswar to discuss such a possibility with the state leaders, who remain divided over the issue. Singh Deo refused to comment, saying all queries in this regard should be addressed to Mitra.