Friday, February 28, 2014


The Pioneer, Feb 28, 2014
Rumours swept in the political circles here on Thursday that senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Bhupinder Singh is on the verge of resigning from the party.
There were also speculations that Singh is likely to join the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ahead of the general elections.Some Congress leaders telephoned The Pioneer office here to ascertain the veracity of the strong rumours about Singh’s political move.
Several attempts to contact Singh over his mobile phone failed as the phone was constantly switched off. One of his assistants, when asked, said the leader had switched off the phone as he was unwell and taking rest at his official residence. He added that Singh’s landline was dead.
Further significantly, Singh abstained from the Congress screening committee meeting held in New Delhi on Thursday for selection of candidates for the elections. Singh, who now represents the Narla Assembly constituency in Kalahandi district, is known to be sore with the party leadership for not considering his request to be the Congress candidate from the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat.
Senior Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das, who is the sitting Kalahandi MP, questions as to why he should be denied the Lok Sabha ticket this time when he had won by an impressive margin of votes in the 2009 elections when there was a strong BJD wave across the State.

Shiva Temples Wear Festive Look

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 28, 2014
Religious fervour gripped western Odisha on the occasion of Mahashivaratri with thousands of devotees making a beeline to Shiva temples.
Devotees offered serpent models made of copper while women kept fast. In most of the temples, ‘Khichidi’ was offered to the deities as prasad. The devotees also visited Ranipur Jharial in Balangir district which is also considered as a Tantric shrine. In Sonepur, large crowd was seen at Shiva temples in Rameswar, Subarnameru, Paschim Somanath, Loknath, Balunkeswar, Chandrasekhar, Gokarneswar and Godhaneswar.
Jeypore: The cave temple of Lord Shiva at Gupteswar was crowded since wee hours as over one lakh devotees lined up to have darshan of eight-foot Shiva ‘Lingam’. Special rituals were performed in the presence of Durua, Paraja, Amanatya, Bhumiya, Gadva, Koya, Bonda and Dhakada tribals.
Elaborate security arrangements were made by the district administration in the wake of Maoist threat.
Parlakhemundi: People from Odisha and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh turned up at Mahendragiri in Rayagada block of Gajapati district to celebrate Shivaratri. The district administration made elaborate arrangements for convenience of the devotees.
Bhawanipatna: Huge congregation of devotees has been reported from different Shiva shrines at Belkhandi, Mohangiri, Kusurla, Junagarh, Dadpur and Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district. They patiently waited for installation of ‘Mahadipa’ atop the temples. Traditional mela, cultural shows, recitation of prayer, Bhajan Samaroh and Minabazaars were added attraction of the celebration.
Nayagarh: Serpentine queue of devotees overflowed to street at Ladukeswar temple on the banks of river Kusumi and on the foothills of Bhandar forest at Sarankul from early morning. The day also marked the beginning of the famous “Jagar Jatra” which will continue for five days.
Jajpur: Mahavinayak temple wore a festive look as people turned up in large number to celebrate Shivaratri. To ensure smooth movement of the devotees, barricades were put up and elaborate security arrangements made. Devotees thronged Baruneswar, Khankadeswar, Beleswar, Utareswar, Trilochaneswar, Sidheswar, Gyaneswar and other major Shiva shrines here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

KKD Declares Candidate for Narla Assembly Seat

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 25, 2014
Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) organised a meeting of its workers at Town Hall here to select its candidate for Narla Assembly constituency of Kalahandi district on Sunday.
After a long deliberation, consensus was reached in favour of KKD Central Committee working president Baidyanath Mishra. In the first phase, besides Narla Assembly constituency, KKD has also declared its candidates in five other Assembly constituencies of Western Odisha. They are Brajarajnagar, Bhatli, Sundargarh Sadar, Biramitrapur and Talsara. It has also declared its candidate for Parliamentary seat of Sundargarh. List of the candidates for other seats would be declared in the second phase soon, Mishra said and added that taking opinion of grassroot workers in open meetings is unique to KKD.
In the previous elections, KKD contested only to spread the party's message regarding need for formation of separate State in Western Odisha and creating public opinion in its favour.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slain IIC Cremated With Guard of Honour

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 24, 2014
Last rites of slain IIC Dilip Sahoo were performed in his native village Dumal near Bhawanipatna of Kalahandi district with guard of honour given by police on Sunday afternoon. Sahoo’s brother lit the funeral pyre.
Kalahandi Additional SP Dinajana Nayak, SDPO Biranchi Dehuri, Deputy Commandant of Keonjhar Laxmidhar Moharana, other senior officials and thousands of people paid their homage to Sahoo.
Sahoo serving at Ghatagaon police station in Keonjhar district was shot dead by a dacoit gang while he was chasing them with a police team on Keonjhar-Mayurbhanj border under Patana police limits on Saturday night. He is survived by wife and a four-year-old son.
Keonjhar: Rich tributes were also paid to Sahoo at Keonjhar Reserve Police ground in presence of Minister for Higher Education Badrinarayan Patra, IG (western range) RK Sharma, Collector BP Sahoo, SP Kavita Jalan, police staff and public.
The body of Sahoo was brought to the district headquarters on Sunday morning where people from various sections of society paid their tributes.
The family members of Sahoo were handed over a cheque of Rs eight lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund by the IG and a cheque of Rs 10,000 from the Red Cross fund by the Collector.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lawyers' Bandh Call Paralyses Life in Western Odisha

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 21, 2014
The dawn to dusk bandh called by the Central Action Committee (CAC) of All Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) threw normal life out of gear on Wednesday.
The bandh was called by agitating lawyers demanding permanent bench of the High Court in the region and a complete and comprehensive proposal by the State Government to the Union Government in this regard. No untoward incident was reported during the bandh which saw Government offices, educational and financial institutions shutting down for the day. Public transport and movement of heavy vehicles too was hit as lawyers picketed at strategic locations and paralysed vehicular movement on NHs.
The bandh also disrupted railway services with protestors squatting on the track. As declared by the CAC, essential services and examinations were exempted from the bandh. Similar reports were received from Bargarh, Jharsugdua, Deogarh, Sonepur and Boudh districts.
The bandh call did not have much impact in Nuapada and Balangir.
The Odisha Government had written to Union Law Ministry and sought concurrence for establishment of High Court bench in Western and Southern Odisha in September last year followed by another letter on February 13.  However, the Union Law Ministry had sought a complete and comprehensive proposal over the matter which has not yet been submitted by the State Government.
Rourkela: The members of the Rourkela Bar Association, one of the largest Bars in the State, with support of various political parties picketed at Vedvyas, Panposh, Uditnagar, Bisra Square, Chhend Colony, Aambagan and Bondamunda. Central and State Government offices, courts and commercial establishments remained closed while commercial vehicles remained off the roads.
RBA president Ramesh Bal said the State Government should immediately recommend to the Centre to set up the bench at Rourkela as it is the most suitable location in Western Odisha and fulfils majority of the critera.
Members of the Sundargarh District Bar Association (SDBA) also took to the streets in Sundargarh district headquarters town to close courts, Government offices, shops and market places while commercial vehicles went off the roads. The bandh was total in adjacent town of Rajgangpur while at the Bonai sub-divisional headquarters, courts and offices were closed but shops remained open.
Jharsuguda: Though the bandh had an impact on normal life, it did not affect functioning of industries and coal mine of MCL. Traders in Jharsuguda, Brajrajnagar and Belpahar downed their shutters in support of the HC bench demand.
No Impact in Kalahandi
Bhawanipatna: Kalahandi lawyers did not extend their support to the bandh call. President of Kalahandi Bar Association Daitary Pradhan said Kalahandi lawyers do not support their counterparts in Sambalpur over the issue. The HC bench should be established in Kalahandi considering its location in the KBK region, backwardness and distance from the HC in Cuttack, he added.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dhramgarh was declared as NAC: Thanks to all who put all the support and effort

Dharitri, Feb 16, 2014
Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra

4th Century Relics Unearthed

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 16, 2014
Published: 16th February 2014 09:56 AM
Last Updated: 16th February 2014 09:56 AM
Rich archaeological remains belonging to the period from 4th century to 5th century AD have been unearthed in Budhigarh of Kalahandi district.
A team of archeologists and historians started excavation at the site in the first week of this month. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) had last year allowed excavation in Budhigarh which was carried out by Baba Mishra, head of history department of Government Autonomous College here and his team of archeologists and historians.
"This was a preliminary excavation which was conducted within one km radius of Budhigarh site. A full-fledged excavation would be done soon," said Mishra.
Budhigarh site is situated on the left bank of river Rahul and considered important due to its strategic location over the 'Salt Route' from Central India to Kalinga. It was also considered an important early urban centre.
From the excavation, bone points, microlithic celts, terracotta human and animal heads, smoking pipe, lamp, potteries, spinning wheel, bangles and terracotta beads among other things were unearthed. Mishra said the antiquities available from Budhigarh make startling revelation pertaining to its industrial and commercial set up as well as its long distance trade.
"Remaining portion of the ruins extends upto one km radius from the site that was dug up. It will be excavated around April or May. Excavations would reveal the commercial links of this region to outside world," Mishra said.
During the recent excavation, the archeologists and historians also conducted a survey of the local area and documented the ethno-medicines available there. Prior excavations at the site had unearthed antiquities like potteries, knobbed wares of fine texture, terracotta figures of animals, human heads, smoking pipe of different designs, semi-precious stone beads, pendants, copper bangles, ivory combs, copper and iron objects.
Copper bowls, fragments of iron bowls, glass beads, punch marked silver coin of the pre-Maurya to post-Maurya period, gold coins, fragments of sword, knife and spear, tiles and bricks had also been found.
 Historians said in Tel river valley, particularly in Kalahandi, several early urban centres like Asurgarh and Budhigarh existed and in the Kalahandi-Balangir border, there was Khaligarh urban centre.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Govt College Gasps under Poor Infra, Staff Crunch

The New Indian Express, Feb 15, 2014
By Uma Shankar Kar - BHAWANIPATNA
The Autonomous Government College of Bhawanipatna, which was accorded the status of ‘Centre of Potential for Excellency’ by UGC in 2005, is struggling to run smoothly for various problems.
Acute staff shortage across the departments has crippled the teaching process. Against the sanctioned posts of 59 in different departments, the college is running with only 14 regular teaching staff while the rest 44 posts have been lying vacant for a long time.
The official figures of teaching staff positions present a dismal picture. Important departments like Geography, Mathematics, Political Science, English, Anthropology and Botany do not have a single teaching staff.
Most of the classes are managed by the visiting faculties. The situation has sparked off resentment among students, guardians and intellectuals. The students alleged that the study atmosphere is not right and most of the departments are managed by guest faculties.
This Autonomous Government College is having MA classes in History, English, Odia, Political Science and Economics. In English and Political Science, the post-graduate as well as under-graduate classes are taken by one junior lecturer each with the assistance of visiting teachers.
In History, one Reader is managing both the under-graduate and post-graduate classes with the help of visiting lectures.
Post-graduate classes in Geography have been suspended for last five years in the absence of teaching staff. Besides, there is no regular principal in the college since 2001.
The long pending demands to set up new science block, start MSc and MCom and restart post-graduate course in Geography are yet to be fulfilled. This apart, cleanliness of the campus and maintenance of the playground have not been undertaken for long. The 100-bed women’s hostel is crammed with 300 inmates while the construction of the new women’s hostel that started in 2009 is yet to be completed.
Expressing concern over sorry state of affairs, president of college students union Hemanta Kumar Nayak has sought intervention of the Chief Minister to improve the situation and pacify growing resentment among the students.
“Unless the condition of this premier educational institution of the district is improved, we cannot dream of development of the backward region,” he added.
Demanding early recruitment of teaching staff for the vacant posts and improving infrastructure of the college, Nayak suggested that the autonomous college should be converted into a university basing on the recommendation of the higher education task force.
In this context, former president of the college union and now Biju Chhatra Janata Dal district president Abinash Thakur said, “The college lacks minimum staff and basic infrastructure. Thus, students are deprived of normal education, leave aside quality education.”
Published: 15th February 2014 09:10 AM
Last Updated: 15th February 2014 09:10 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Odisha: Vedanta lights lamp of education in Lanjigarh

Orissadiary, Feb 12, 2014
Lanjigarh: Beyond headline grabbing attention, a silent revolution has been unleashed in the tribal belt of Kalahandi. Poor infrastructure and absenteeism of teaching staff were the major roadblocks for quality education in the block. With Vedanta Aluminium stepping into the scenario in partnership with the Government of Odisha and people, students here are now getting what is their right – quality education. Improved infrastructure at schools, regular teaching, additional support for students to prove their skills and due care of students’ health through nutritious mid-day meals have radically changed the education scenario in Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district. As a result, while school dropout rate has come down from 70% in 2005 to just about 20%, attendance has gone up to 86% from 45%. Vedanta supports 10 Government and non-Government schools including Basantpada Primary school, Panchayat High School, Chhatrapur, Jodabandha High School, SSD High School Lanjigarh etc. in the block by providing them facilities like school building, classroom, boundary wall, logistic support, contract teachers, non-teaching staff and financial support for co-curricular activities. The company has also constructed girls’ hostels in many schools.  Besides, Vedanta assists in providing nutritious mid-day meal to more than 15,000 students of 187 schools from its modern, centralized, fully mechanized kitchen in Lanjigarh. The quality mid-day meal provided to students has played a major role in improving attendance. Also, it has helped improve education quality by relieving school staff from the hassle of organizing and cooking mid-day meal. Vedanta has also established a DAV International School in Lanjigarh for English-medium education. The school with all modern facilities imparts quality education to tribal and other natives of Lanjigarh for free. Students of the school have emerged as top performers in Kalahandi district over the past few years. Apart from education, the school also promotes students in sports and other co-curricular activities.  - See more at:

Proposal for Howrah-Chennai route via Kharagpur, Baripada, Talcher, Lanjigarh road, Junagarh, Malkangiri and Vijayawada needed

Fab 12, 2014
Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
Realising the practical scenario of Indian railway and politics involved in railway budget, it is difficult to reason whether Junagarh-Malkangiri via Nabarangpur and Jeypore as well as Lanjigarh road-Talcher via Phulbani and Boudh will ever be built in next 30 years. 

Though your recent move to provide free land and share 50% of the cost of Khurdha-Balangir railway line by the state Government is lauded, it remains a fact that Odisha is not the only state that is sharing cost to develop railway infrastructure. Earlier Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have already started sharing cost to bring railway infrastructure in their respective states.

Though survey has been carried out by Indian railways, the initial estimation for Talcher-Lanjigarh road and Junagarh-Malkangiri via Nabarangpur and Jeypore routes indicate that these routes may give 15% or less commercial return like was estimated earlier for Khurdha-Balangir line. This demoralises railway to push further unless a political will is made. 

To add to it, BJD and state Govt. continued in politics of blame game against central Govt., which may be good for public perception, but it is not solving the actual problem in hand. Supposing BJD's current political third front stand in the national politics, general national political mood, and BJD's probable coming back to power in Odisha, it is difficult to further rationalize of a new central Government in next May that would be sympathizing to Odisha's need in railway infrastructure, most likely the political equation of the state with the new central Govt. will further discourage railway development in the state, consequently, vision for bringing railway line to backward districts like Kandhamal, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri may remain as a dream for next few decades.   

Therefore, active involvement of the state Government, the way it did for Khordha-Balangir line and perhaps through Biju KBK Yojana and Biju Kandhamal Yojana, is needed for sanctioning of these two important projects. 

Lanjigarh road-Phulbani-Talcher line will bring backward and tribal dominated Kandhamal district to the railway map for the first time, it will also connect Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir (Titlagarh and Kantabanji region), and Nabarangpur district directly with Bhubaneswar and Cuttack by joining Kordha-Balangir route at Boudh and Angul respectively, which will make accessible to large part of inaccessible KBK and Kandhamal region from the state capital directly and help in countering Maoist activities in the region. Beside that this line will facilitate alumina/coal transportation for NALCO from its refinery in Damajodi to its Smelter in Angul by reducing distance about 100 km, thus, it has commercial and industrial benefits. State Govt. should also push NALCO, VAL, UAIL and other industrial house to get involve in this project.

On the other side, Junagarh-Malkangiri route via Nabarangpur and Jeypore will for the first time bring rail connectivity to Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts. 

It is high time to propose an alternative Howrah-Chennai route via Kharagpur, Baripada, Talcher, Lanjigarh road, Junagarh, Nabarangpur, Jeypore, Malkangiri, Bhadrachalam road and Vijaywada, instead of railway's current proposal to have triple line between Vijayawada and Kharagpur via Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar. Beside meeting the current need for busy Howrah-Chennai route, the proposed route will bring development to all the major tribal dominated  districts such as Mayurbhanj, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Malkangiri of the state. 

I urge and anticipate that you will kindly that necessary step in this matter by proposing to provide free land and sharing 50 % cost for the Lanjigarh road-Talcher as well as Junagarh-Nabarangpur-Jeypore-Malkangiri projects and establishing an alternative railway route via these backward tribal districts for existing Howrah-Chennai railway line.

Thanking you

With best regards

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interim Rail Budget Big Disappointment: CM

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Feb 13, 2014
The Vote-on-Account Railway Budget, which was presented in Parliament on Wednesday, announced two passengers and an Express train for Odisha.
 However, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was quick to express his disappointment saying the State has been neglected by the Centre again.
 The interim Railway Budget announced introduction of Gunupur-Visakhapatnam and Sambalpur-Bhawanipatna daily passengers  which would meet the demands of commuters in their respective regions. The Gunupur-Visakhapatnam passenger will directly connect people of Gajapati with bordering as well as areas of Andhra Pradesh.
 Similarly, the Sambalpur-Bhawanipatna passenger will also bring more connectivity in the western pocket.
 The passenger trains apart, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge also announced Puri-Gandhidham and Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Express. These two trains will originate from ECoR territory. Similarly, Kamakhya-Chennai and Howrah-Yesvantpur weekly Express trains were also announced.
 These two trains will pass through ECoR territory on a weekly basis.
 Naveen, on his part, said the announcement was a big disappointment. “We had requested the Ministry of Railways to allocate `4,000 crore for various projects in the State, but in the Vote-On-Account Railway Budget, no specific provision on any project has been indicated,” the CM said.
 The State had demanded 31 new trains. In view of the funds crunch, Naveen said  Odisha Government had come forward to finance 50 per cent of the project cost and provide land for free for the balance work on Khurda-Balangir line. Similarly, it had committed 26 per cent share capital in two special purpose vehicle projects, including Haridaspur-Paradip and Angul-Sukinda lines, but no mention has been made about either of them, he added.
 Naveen also raised the “step-motherly treatment” pitch saying the Centre has been silent on proposals for wagon factory in Ganjam and Kalahandi project as well as modern railway station plan, whereas the State contributes more than `14,000 crore revenue a year.
 The people of Odisha will remember the continuous neglect and give a befitting response at the “earliest opportunity,” Naveen’s statement said.
 However, since this is the interim budget, ECoR sources said the announcements do not reflect what is in store in the full Railway Budget, which will be presented in  June. “Instead of spreading its allocation over a number of projects, the Railway Ministry has been requested to focus on major projects such as doubling of Delang-Puri and Khurda-Balangir line since these two are of immediate importance,” sources added.
 Similarly, extension of trains to different parts of the State in a planned manner will also be a major request to the Railway Ministry from ECoR.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Good job Bhakta Charan Das: A new passenger train between Bhawanipatna and Sambalpur has been approved in the interim railway budget 2014-15

Some of the train approved in the interim railway budget 2014-15 for Odisha:

Premium train:
Howrah-Pune AC express (passing Jharsuguda, Rourkela)
Mumbai-Howrah AC express via Nagpur, Raipur (passing Jharsuguda, Rourkela)
Kamakhya-Chennai AC express (passing Berhampur, Bhubaneswar, Balasore)

Express train:
Gandhidham-Puri express
Howrah-Yeswantpur AC express via Bhubaneswar

Passenger train:
Gunupur-Visakhapatnam passenger
Sambalpur - Bhawanipatna passenger

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rahul: BJD Looting Central Govt Funds

The New Indian Express, Feb 10, 2014
Launching a frontal attack on Naveen Patnaik Government over the multi-crore mining and chit fund scams, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president and party’s campaign committee chairman Rahul Gandhi here on Sunday called upon the people to throw away the corrupt Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Government in Odisha.
Rahul, who addressed a public meeting at Bhatapada near Salepur, as part of his two-day visit to the State, however, did not utter a single word on Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or any other national issues.
Criticising the BJD Government for siphoning off money meant for the development of the State, Rahul said the people of this ‘amir’ State are ‘garib’ because the money that the minerals in the State fetch does not reach the people. “It goes to the pockets of mining mafia and a handful of people,” he alleged.
Rahul said Odisha is one of the richest States in the country with huge deposits of iron, manganese, bauxite, coal and forest resources. “However, what lacks is Government’s commitment to provide employment and pass on the fund to the people. Money earned from mineral sector vanishes on the way,” the Congress leader said, adding that the Raghurajan Committee has also placed Odisha as one of the most backward States.
“Odisha has witnessed over 3,500 farmers’ suicides and unemployment figure of 10 lakh. People want job, but Government does not provide. Twentytwo out of 30 districts of the State are Naxal-affected,” he said.
Stating that minerals worth `60,000 crore were looted which would have benefited a large number of people in the State, he said only select people benefited from  this. Similarly, 20 lakh people of the State lost their money in the chit fund scam. Schools and hospitals remain closed because there are no teachers and doctors, he said.            
Huge funds are provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme and the midday meal programme, Rahul said and added that the benefits do not reach the people because of the corrupt BJD Government. Besides, rice meant for the BPL families were also misappropriated, he said.
 Referring to the stand of the State Government that the Centre does not provide funds,
Rahul said no Government in the history has given so much fund to the State as provided by the UPA.
But `5,000 crore remain unspent, he said.
 On people’s struggle against the Vedanta project in Kalahandi district, Rahul said, “We have fought a big battle for tribals in Niyamgiri and returned their land.”
 He asked the Congress leaders to go to the villages and fight for the rights of the Dalits, weaker section and women.
“You have to throw the corrupt BJD Government away and bring a government which should be of the tribals and Dalits,” he said.
 As soon as Rahul emerged from Biju Patnaik airport on Sunday morning, he was given a rousing welcome by waiting Congress leaders. Immediately, he was on the road and kept on waving from his SUV to crowd lined up on both sides of the roads.
 Enthusiastic youngsters and party workers jostled for space to get a glimpse of the Gandhi scion.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Biggies set Odisha dates - Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Modi to visit state in February

The Telegraph, Feb 1, 2013
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 31: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi will visit the state in the second week of February to kick-start the party’s campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
On the other hand, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will also address a rally in the city on February 11.
“Rahul will be on a two-day tour of the state from February 9. His visit will be followed by that of the Congress president,” said Congress leader Bhupinder Singh.
Congress MP Bhakta Charan Das said: “We are doing our best to ensure that we capture at least 12 of the state’s 21 Lok Sabha seats. The visit of the two leaders will give a fillip to our campaign. Soniaji will address a rally in Kalahandi.”
Das, who spearheaded the Lanjigarh movement that led to cancellation of Niyamgiri hills mining, represents Kalahandi district in the Lok Sabha.
Of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress has six and the BJD, 14. The CPI, BJD’s poll partner, has one seat.
Rahul will address meetings at Berhampur, Bissham Cuttack, Talcher, Khariar and Salepur. Congress sources said the party would declare the names of all its Lok Sabha candidates before Rahul and Sonia’s visit.
The state Congress would like the six sitting MPs to be retained. However, Singh is interested to contest from Kalahandi in the place of Bhakta Charan Das. Singh said: “ I want to contest for the Lok Sabha. But whatever the party decides, I will abide by it.”
The BJP, on the other hand, is sparing no efforts to use Modi’s visit to galvanise its workers.
The BJP today started collecting funds for the meeting. BJP spokesperson Samir Mohanty said: “We have introduced Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 coupons and asking people to buy them..”
However, the BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das said the visit of the national leaders would have no impact on his party’s poll prospects. “The people of Odisha already know the characters of both the Congress and the BJP. No one can match the popularity of Naveen Patnaik.”