Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 2:
The state is all set to roll out the red carpet for the two principal contenders for the Prime Minister’s post after the 2014 elections – BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress campaign committee chief and de facto prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi – next week.
Political circles in the state are agog with excitement ahead of the back-to-back visits of the two big players. While the state BJP is burning the midnight oil for Modi’s convention scheduled to be held here on February 11, the state Congress today confirmed the visit of party’s prime minister-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi to the state on February 9 and 10.
The Congress’s campaign committee chief will address six conventions across the state in the two days, a move presumably aimed at countering the impact of Modi’s rally.
“Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit the state on February 9 and 10. He will address six conventions across the state in the two days. However, the office of Gandhi is yet to confirm the places, which we have sent for approval,” said PCC president Jaydev Jena.
Congress sources, however, said Rahul Gandhi would address meetings at Salipur in Cuttack district, Duburi in Jajpur district, Khariar Road in Nuapada district, Bisam Katak in Rayagada district and Berhampur town in Ganjam district.
Since various exit polls conducted by several national news channels suggest that the popularity of Modi is growing across the state, Rahul’s visit is being seen as a desperate move by the Congress to offset some of the impact with a whirlwind tour by the Gandhi scion.
Rahul Gandhi, who initially wanted to visit the state in the first week of February, deferred his visit in view of the Rajya Sabha elections on February 7.
Claiming that Modi’s public meeting would have no impact on the people of the state, Jena said “Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have an emotional attachment with the people here.” Sonia Gandhi is likely to visit Odisha in the last week of February to address a convention in Kalahandi district.
Meanwhile, Commissionerate Police is pulling out all stops to ensure foolproof security and efficient traffic management during the Modi convention at Baramunda ground here.