Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 16:

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik continued his public relation blitzkrieg on the third consecutive day today over the Mahanadi water dispute as he met as many as “28 organisations and discussed the water sharing dispute with them” in a matter of few hours.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

Hours before the Chief Minister left for New Delhi to attend a key tripartite meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow on the dispute, the Chief Minister’s Office issued a press notification sharing the names of the organisations and individuals that met Patnaik at the Secretariat today.

Curiously, even though the notification went to great details to list out the names, it ran out of steam while describing what transpired in those meetings.

The super-human efficiency in which the meetings were held where Patnaik “discussed the issue with the delegates” and assured them to “take necessary steps to defend the interests of Odisha in the New Delhi meeting after reviewing the suggestions of the delegates thoroughly” was obvious given the time-frame.

With less than a day to go for the key meeting, how and when Patnaik will manage to review the suggestions are also unclear.

If the PR stunt of the Chief Minister was not enough, thousands Biju Janata Dal supporters – dressed in party colours — gathered at the Biju Patnaik International Airport to see off the Chief Minister before he boarded the plane for Delhi.

“I am thankful to all the friends from various organisations who came forward to give their valuable suggestions on the Mahanadi issue in the past three days. It was heartening to know that they have analyzed the issue very well and have come up with well thought out suggestions,” Patnaik murmured in Odia reading from a paper while addressing the reporters before leaving for Delhi.

“I would also like to thank various political parties who met me and their leaders who came forward with valuable suggestions in the larger interest of the State and its people,” he added after meeting some lesser known parties.

Interestingly, he failed to mention the reason he has consistently refrained from calling an all-party meeting or attending the one called by Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra.

“I assure each one of you that I will put my best efforts forward and leave no stone unturned in the fight for the rights of the people of our state. I am going to the Delhi meeting with a lot of hope that the Central Government will listen to the voice of Odisha and do justice to the people of our state in this sensitive Mahanadi issue,” Chief Minister added who earlier vowed to fight till the last drop of blood left in his body to defend interests of Odias in Mahanadi issue.

Apart from Patnaik, his Chhattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh and Union Water Resource Minister Uma Bharti will also take part in the meeting tomorrow along with top officials from all the parties.

According to a source familiar with the government’s strategy on the issue, the Chief Minister will ask the Center to intervene and get the ongoing projects on the upper catchment of Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh scrapped so that the water inflow to Hirakud is not affected.