BHUBANESWAR: Will religion play a major role in next elections scheduled in 2019? This brand of politics, which was not much in practice in Odisha, may make an entry in the State going by the activities of two major contenders - BJD and BJP - during the last several days.The BJD, which informally launched its election campaign on Wednesday from the Mahanadi Sachetanana Jatra, flagged off by Chief Minister from Sukhasoda in Jharsuguda and Chikhili in Bargarh district, followed it up on Thursday by organising a massive Jal Arti in Mahanadi river at Sambalpur which was attended by thousands of people. “The arti was a big success and we plan to follow it up with visits to all the temples on both sides of Mahanadi river,” Rajya Sabha member and BJD vice-president Prasanna Acharya told this paper.
“We will offer prayer and seek the blessings of God for protection of Mahanadi river,” Acharya said. The BJD also plans to organise another Jal Arti at Gadagadia Ghat, Cuttack on completion of the Sachetanata Jatra on Mahanadi river dispute. Next on the schedule of the BJD Jatra is a visit to the temple of Metakani Devi which is located at Ulunda in Sonepur district.
Not to be left behind, the BJP also launched a statewide campaign called Mahila Suraksha Yatra over rising trend of atrocities and crime against girls and women in Odisha from eight temples across the State. The yatra kick-started from seven prominent temples, including Sikharchandi Temple in Bhubaneswar, Chandi Temple in Cuttack, Bhadrakali Temple in Bhadrak, Samleswari Temple in Sambalpur, Maa Mangala Temple in Puri’s Kakatpur, Kandhuni Temple in Ganjam’s Surada and Patneswari Temple in Patnagarh.
During the 11-day Yatra, the activists will cover seven routes while holding 450 public meetings to sensitise the women on various important issues, their rights, safety and security. “The response was good and encouraging,” BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said.Meanwhile, the state Congress which was out of contention till a few weeks back, has launched a drive to win the confidence of the people. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said, if voted to power in 2019 elections, the party will waive off entire debts of the farmers. Addressing a meeting at Jeypore, Patnaik said Congress will also increase the monthly old age pension to `1000 from the present `300.