‘Neither Sonia nor Narendra Modi visited the State after the devastating cyclone’

During his address at the women’s meet of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for south Odisha here on Wednesday, Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik hinted that Phailin cyclone and its aftermath would be major political plank for the party during the coming elections.

This women’s meet in Berhampur was the first of the three public meetings organised by the BJD on Wednesday to coincide with the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik. The other two public meetings meant for farmers and youth were held in Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar. With it the BJD kickstarted its election campaign on the day dates were declared for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

Addressing a large gathering of women, who had come from different districts, Mr Patnaik used the Phailin cyclone experience in the State to attack both Congress and the BJP.

Although during elections leaders of these parties shed tears for people of the State, none of their leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and prime ministerial candidate of the BJP Narendra Modi, reached Odisha after the Phailin cyclone to take stock of the situation, he said. He said the Congress-led UPA had also not thought of providing proper assistance to Odisha for relief and restoration work after the devastating cyclone.

“During the 1999 super cyclone that had hit the State, the then Congress government in the State had totally mismanaged and failed to meet the needs of the devastated families,” he said. According to him the management of relief and restoration work after the Phailin cyclone in October 2013 was a great success of his government which had been acknowledged by international forums including the United Nations (UN).

Mr Patnaik said the UPA government had neglected the State by not revising its mines royalty share. “Due to it Odisha is losing Rs 1,800 crore every year which could have been used for developmental projects for the needy,” he said.

He also criticised the Central government for not providing special category status to Odisha, while it was granted to Seemandhra after proposed division of Andhra Pradesh. The BJD chief claimed that Odisha had galloped on the path of development during last 14-year rule of the party in the State.

He reiterated developmental projects taken up by his government including declaration that eight new medical colleges were being opened in the State while seven others were on the anvil.

The women’s meet, which was a major show of strength of the BJD, was attended by a long list of top leaders of the party. They included president of women’s BJD Pramila Mallik, State Ministers Surya Narayan Patra, Bikram Keshari Arukh, Usha Devi, Sarojini Hembram, Ramesh Majhi, and Rabi Narayan Nanda. Several BJD MLAs and MPs of south Odisha also attended this women’s meet.

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