Race to pocket fest credit

Political rivalry between the BJD and the BJP over Nabakalebar and rath yatra has intensified with both trying to take credit for the infrastructure development work for the festival.

By Subhashish Mohanty in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 9.07.15
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Chief minister Naveen Patnaik releases a book with archival documents on Nabakalebar at secretariat on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, July 8: Political rivalry between the BJD and the BJP over Nabakalebar and rath yatra has intensified with both trying to take credit for the infrastructure development work for the festival.

Five days after chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated more than a dozen infrastructure projects, including the Malatipatpur bus stand and a hospital in the temple town, four central ministers will reach here tomorrow to inaugurate a string of projects.

BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said: "Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari and Union minister of communication and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad will inaugurate the central government-funded projects. The two central ministers from Odisha - petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pardhan and Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram - will accompany the two ministers."

While Gadkari will dedicate the Bhubaneswar-Puri road to the public, Prasad will dedicate the BSNL's Wi-Fi project in Puri.

Naveen will be present at the inauguration of NH-203 expansion work at Pipili. To ensure that the BJP did not steal the show, BJD workers have already displayed their party banners and flags along the national highway. The party is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that their leader Naveen Patnaik remained in focus during the ceremony. Local MLA and minister Pradeep Maharathy is looking after arrangements himself.

BJP leaders today criticised the BJD's attempt to convert the function as a party show. "We never thought that they would stoop to such a low level for cheap publicity," said BJP senior leader Purthvi Raj Harichandan.

Pradesh Congress committee president Prasad Harichandan said: "Now, both the parties are competing with each other to hog the limelight. What is more interesting is that most of the projects taken up by the state government have not been completed."

With only 10 days left for the car festival, the chief minister today sent a team of officials, led by chief secretary G.C. Pati, to Puri to monitor the ongoing projects. "All efforts are being made to ensure the success of the car festival," said an official, adding that after the Brahma paribartan (soul transfer) fiasco, the chief minister was keen to ensure that nothing went wrong.

The chief minister, who has already deputed five ministers to oversee the projects in Puri, today asked Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation commissioner Krishan Kumar to go to Puri, where he would act as the in charge of the local municipality till the festival is over.

The five ministers, who are camping in the temple town, are health and family welfare minister Atanu Sabya Sachi Nayak, law minister Arun Sahu, housing and urban development minister Puspendra Singh Deo, energy minister Pranab Prakash Das and food and consumer welfare minister Sanjay Das Burma.

In another development, the chief minister this evening inaugurated archival documents on Nabakalebar at the state secretariat.