Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Rourkela, Jun 6:

The Vikas Utsav held this afternoon in Odisha’s Steel City turned out to be a damp squib as various tall leaders of the party from the state and Centre failed to turn up at the event.

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While Union Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar and BJP’s national secretary H Raja cancelled their visit to the Rourkela event, no other prominent leader except Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram was present in the function organised at Bhanja Bhawan ground here.

In the absence of the Central leader as guests, senior BJP leader Jual Oram took the mantle of propagating Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s achievements in the last two years.

The saffron party’s state unit president Basant Panda, former state chief and Patnagarh MLA KV Singhdeo, firebrand leader Pratap Sarangi, Bijoy Mohapatra, Pradeep Purohit, Sajjan Sharma, Sameer Mohanty, Nayan Kishore Mohanty, Sameer De, Manmohan Samal and many more were intriguingly missing from the function today.

Today’s event was second in the series of seven functions to be held in the state as part of the fortnight-long nationwide Vikas Utsav. While the first one addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed a sizable footfall, the Rourkela gathering was abysmally low compared to the previous one.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Balasore visit was seen as an attempt to regain party’s lost ground in the state with panchayat elections due early next year. Today’s low attendance at the event is not going to help its cause, political pundits opined.