BJD to hold rally for special status

After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal-United, it is now the turn of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to flex muscles in New Delhi to demand special category status (SCS) for their state.

The ruling regional outfit has planned a massive rally at the Ram Lila ground in the national capital on June 12, which is expected to be attended by 30,000 people.

Just before leaving for New Delhi on Monday evening, Patnaik, who also heads the BJD, had a detailed discussion with senior party colleagues on the proposed rally, party sources said on Tuesday.

This is the first time since its inception in 1997 that the BJD will organise a rally outside the state. The party has already approached the Railways to provide six special trains to ferry party supporters from the state to the national capital.

A group of senior party leaders, including two ministers in the Patnaik cabinet, had also recently visited New Delhi to have a discussion with the Odiya associations there on the proposed rally.

Before the New Delhi programme, the regional outfit is planning another rally in the state capital on June 9, when a memorandum carrying the signatures of one crore people across the state would be presented to party president Patnaik.

Copies of the memorandum, demanding special-category status for the state, would be presented to the President and the Prime Minister after the New Delhi rally.  The BJD had launched the signature campaign for this across the state a few days ago.

However, the state units of the Congress and the BJP, BJD’s principal opponents in the state, have described the exercise as nothing but a political gimmick to hide the overall failure of the Patnaik administration. Both Odisha and Bihar have been demanding special category status for quite some time now.

The BJD has already made it a major issue, and is also expected to turn it into an important plank for the coming elections if the Centre does not concede to the party’s demand by then.

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