The BJD’s month long signature campaign to press for the special category state status for Odisha came to an end on Sunday, with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik receiving more than one crore signatures from party leaders.
Addressing a rally to mark the occasion, Naveen lashed out at the Congress leaders, who were opposing the demand. “The party is more to them than the state,” he said and alleged that the Congress leaders were weakening the demand raised by his party for over four crore people of the state.
Naveen is expected to hand over a memorandum containing the signatures to President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi, after the Swabhiman Rally on June 12.
Pointing out that the Centre has been turning a blind eye to his party’s demand for SCS status for Odisha on political reasons, Naveen said the UPA Government was adopting different policies for different states, violating the federal principles. According to him, the state has satisfied all the criteria for the SCS status except an international boundary. Unveiling the BJD’s plans to organise a rally in New Delhi on June 12 to pressurise the Centre on the issue, Naveen called upon the people to attend it in large numbers.
Several senior leaders, who addressed the rally, said the fight against the Centre would continue till Odisha was declared a special category state. State Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya said Naveen was the second person from Odisha, after Subhas Bose, who had given a call for ‘Delhi chalo’ to free Odisha from exploitation at the hands of the Centre.
Former minister A U Singhdeo alleged that the Congress was trying to delay the departure of special trains from Odisha, to foil the rally. The Congress has, however, described the New Delhi rally a drama.