BHUBANESWAR: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to address a massive farmers’ rally at Bargarh on February 21, the focus of all political parties in the State has shifted to Western Odisha.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will visit Balangir and Kalahandi districts on February 18 and 19 respectively to lay foundation stones of different projects, president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan on Saturday met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi at New Delhi to discuss problems faced by farmers in Odisha.
Congress sources maintained that Harichandan met Rahul to finalise strategy to counter the fall out of Modi’s rally at Bargarh. The State Congress is likely to launch an agitation against the Government over non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
However, the State BJP and party leaders from neighbouring Chhattisgarh have already started preparations for mobilising farmers for the Bargarh rally from all parts of the State. Besides addressing the rally, the Prime Minister is likely to directly interact with farmer leaders.
The AICC vice-president had undertaken a seven-km padyatra in Bargarh district on September 10, 2015 as a part of the save farmers campaign launched by the party. Party sources maintained that the Congress will undertake programmes in Western Odisha districts to maintain the goodwill generated in its favour after the padyatra of Gandhi.
The BJD had organised a huge rally at Sohela on November 19 after coming under criticism from the opposition political parties.
Official sources maintained that more than 150 farmers had committed suicide due to crop loss and loan burden in later half of 2015. But unofficial estimates put the number of farmers who committed suicide in the State at more than 200.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will visit Balangir and Kalahandi districts on February 18 and 19 respectively to lay foundation stones of different projects.