SAMBALPUR: The district BJD which was bracing up for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s visit on January 23 to unveil freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai’s statue was in for a shock on Wednesday after the martyr’s descendant Lal Fakira Sai completed the job with support from Congress.
The statue has been lying covered since 2009 but Wednesday’s development has left the BJD on a sticky wicket since any move to unveil the statute again may trigger tension and backfire on the ruling party.
The statue was supposed to be unveiled by Naveen in 2009 on the freedom fighter’s 200th birth anniversary. Though efforts were made several times to get it unveiled by the Chief Minister, it could not materialise with Naveen unable to spare time. The statue has been installed at Sai’s birthplace Khinda, along National Highway-10.
Since the continuous postponement had led to resentment among the locals, the Veer Surendra Sai Smrutee Sansad, led by local BJD leader MB Pyari Raj, had planned to get it unveiled at the hands of Naveen who is likely to visit the district on Friday.
However, pouring cold water on the BJD’s preparations, Fakira along with villagers of Khinda went ahead and unveiled the statue on Wednesday afternoon.
While a livid BJD has blamed Congress for the incident, locals justified Fakira’s move on the grounds that no official communication has been received by the district administration yet on the visit of the Chief Minister.
Smrutee Sansad condemned the incident and claimed that Naveen had consented to grace the function, which would go ahead as scheduled on Friday. It accused the Congress of trying to create disturbance and coaxing Fakira to unveil the statue.
However, Congress leader Debendra Pati accused the BJD of politicising the issue for mileage. The Governor was slated to unveil the statue in 2011 but BJD prevented it. BJD wants the Chief Minister to unveil the statue but he does not have time, he added.