Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, Sep 11:
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today visited Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics (SVPPGIP) in Odisha’s Millennium City in the backdrop of the recent spate of infant deaths which claimed over 60 lives in 10 days.
During his visit to Sishu Bhawan, Rahul visited the wards and interacted with the officials as well as the relatives of the patients to take stock of the present situation.
Addressing reporters after his short, 20-minute tour of the hospital wards, the Congress scion talked about the ‘spirit of Odisha’. “As I went into a ward, I saw a small child who is under treatment and his mother who was crying. The child told me, “Don’t bother about me. Please console my mother and stop her from crying. This, I think, is the spirit of Odisha. It is a spirit that the Naveen Patnaik government has never tapped into,” he said.
“I have come here primarily for two reasons. First, to see things for myself and second, I expect my visit to shake the state government into acting on this grave crisis,” Rahul said.
The Congress vice president was accompanied by OPCC president Prasad Harichandan, leader of the opposition in the Assembly Narasingha Mishna and other senior leaders of the party from the state unit.
After his visit to Sishu Bhavan, Rahul rushed back to Bhubaneswar where he garlanded the statues of eminent leaders installed inside Congress Bhavan before meeting party leaders and giving the customary pep talk at the meeting of the state executive organised on the occasion. All PCC office bearers, besides presidents of the district units of the party, participated in the meeting.
From Congress Bhavan, the Congress vice president went to the State Guest House where he met a group of victims of the chit fund scam. He assured them that he would raise their plight in the Parliament.
Rahul is also scheduled to meet some senior journalists at the State Guest House post-lunch. Besides, he will be participating in a workshop on social justice later in the day.
On the last day of his visit to Odisha, Rahul arrived at the Biju Patnaik Airport here from the Jharsuguda airstrip at around 10 am this morning. Rahul was given a rousing welcome at the airport by partymen.
Congress workers jostled to have a glimpse of the Gandhi scion and were seen cheering him along the road from airport through the city to Cuttack.
Meanwhile, a three-tier security has been put in place for Rahul’s visit to the old capital of Odisha. At least 20 platoons policemen have been deployed to regulate traffic and maintain law and order.
Rahul’s visit to the state is expected to play a significant role in rejuvenating the grand old party in Odisha, which was decimated in the last elections in the state and has witnessed infighting in the recent past.
It may be recalled that 12 state Congress leaders had gone to New Delhi to meet party high-command Sonia Gandhi in July this year without informing the Leader of Opposition (LoP) Narasingha Mishra. The incident had exposed the intra-party squabble in the Congress after the leaders reportedly urged the Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi to replace Bahinipati with Jharsuguda MLA Naba Das as the party chief whip.