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Party rally to mark 10 years

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 25: The ruling BJD is busy preparing for a mammoth rally and a public meeting here tomorrow to mark 10 years of the party.

“The party, which will complete its 10th year tomorrow, will hold a meeting and a rally to celebrate the occasion,” said chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik, who was re-elected as the party chief for the fifth term in a row. Party insiders are sure that Naveen would not let go this opportunity to show his party’s strength.

Recently, Congress, the main Opposition party in Orissa, had organised a rally on December 2 mainly comprising farmers from Sambalpur. The rally was to express solidarity with the agitating peasants, who have land holdings falling under the Hirakud command area. Then Samajwadi Party, too, had called a Bikalpa Samabesh at Puri, which was addressed by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Not to be left behind, NCP has plans to organise a rally in Bhubaneswar, likely to be addressed by party chief and Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar.

However, BJD secretary-general stresses: “We have no mind to confront or compete with any party. It’s a record of sorts that a regional outfit has managed to survive for 10 years. We will celebrate the occasion in a big way,” Rout added.

The BJD has set a target of 2 lakh party workers and supporters. But recent reports state that the numbers may swell up to 5 lakh. A senior cabinet minister, also a member of the anniversary celebration committee, said though no specific target has been set for constituencies, more workers were expected from undivided Cuttack and Puri and especially from constituencies of Bhubaneswar.

Party general-secretary Narendra Swain said efforts were on to ensure that all the 80,000-odd wards across the state were all represented.

Elaborate arrangements have been made to make the rally a success by including bands, dance troupes, music groups and fireworks. The estimated budget for the rally has been fixed at Rs 10 crore, which would be collected from various “well-wishers”.

The mega rally has already managed to create a buzz in the capital with the Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee president, Jaydev Jena, alleging that the ruling BJD was misusing the official machinery and collecting funds from industrial houses for the rally.

NCP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said: “It’s unfortunate that chief minister Naveen Patnaik is spending crores on a rally, when farmers are forced to commit suicide after failing to repay loans.”

BJD general-secretary Swain denied all allegations and said the workers were “making their own arrangements”. The state unit was only providing banners, posters and leaflets. A school ground located at the heart of the city has been chosen as the venue for the public meeting.

State finance minister Prafulla Ghadei, works minister A.U. Singhdeo, steel and mines minister Padmanabha Behera, energy minister Surya Narayan Patro and senior leaders, are monitoring the preparations.

According to police estimate, more than 2.5-lakh BJD workers and supporters are expected to converge in the city tomorrow.

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