Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Salepur/Bhubaneswar, Nov 21:
In an embarrassing development for faction ridden Odisha Congress, more than a hundred workers from Salepur block of the party switched loyalty to ruling BJD today. This comes on a day when the party was conducting the third phase of its padyatra named ‘Jagran Yatra’ in the same block.
Accompanied by BJD leader Pratap Jena, the rebel leaders arrived at the Naveen Niwas in Bhubaneswar this morning and formally joined the party in presence of the party chief and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The state unit of congress, however, went ahead with its scheduled Padyatra that started from Manoharpur and continued till Salepur of Cuttack district to raise awareness against the misgovernance of ruling BJD.
Led by Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Prasad Harichandan, former Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Ramakanta Mishra, AICC General Secretary BK Hariprasad and other senior congress leaders, the ‘Jagaran Yatra’ was attended by hundreds of enthusiastic congress workers. Later, a public meeting was held at Salepur village that was also attended by thousands of supporters.
Farmer suicides, drought condition, price rise, irregularities in enrolment in NFSA (National Food Security Act) rolls were highlighted prominently by the party in the rally and the meeting.
“This is the first leg of the rally in the coastal bets of the state. As you can see so many common people have been part of this rally. There is a wave of frustration against the government that is responsible for farmer suicide and was unable to handle the drought situation in the state,” said Harichandan speaking to reporters during the rally.
BJD spokesperson refuted any wave of frustration against the party and called the ‘Jagran Yatra’ an attempt for survival by Odisha Congress.
“PCC Chief was referring to drought situation in Western Odisha. We know there are problems and have already addressed them in our farmers’ rally in Sohela. The farmers of this state still believe in Naveen Patnaik. The congress has lost the confidence of people. Best example of this came today from the very place they are starting their rally from. As you know more than 100 people led by the Block Congress President today joined BJD in front of Naveen Patnaik. Congress is taking out the rally to remind people of its presence,” countered BJD Spokesperson Samir Dash.
Notably, the party conducted the first phase of the ‘Jagaran Yatra’ from Dhokuta till Bantala in Angul district on October 14 and the second phase of the rally was carried out from Ghuchaguda till Jugenpadar in Nuapada district on October 30. The party has a plan to conduct the Jagran Yatra in 10 phases across the state. It would continue till April 2016.