BHUBANESWAR: THE growing intolerance between BJD and BJP ahead of the panchayat polls intensified further with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh launching his campaign for party candidates for the first phase polls on Thursday at three places in Western Odisha. The visit of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister evoked strong reaction from BJP’s political rivals - BJD and Congress - even as the former maintained that his visit to Odisha is meant to clear the misunderstanding over Mahanadi river water dispute and tell the truth.
While the BJD organised Jal Satyagraha at Cuttack and Sambalpur to protest Singh’s visit, activists of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) staged a dharna in front of Loisingha police station in Balangir district shouting slogans against the Singh. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra also visited the dharna place at Loisingha. Addressing a public meeting at Burda in Balangir district as a part of his campaign, Singh said it is the duty of neighbours to clear misunderstanding. Stating that the Mahanadi river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh can be resolved through discussion, Singh described Chhattisgarh as the younger brother of Odisha.
“The issue can be resolved if the two brothers discuss among themselves,” he said. Singh claimed that 82 per cent of the Mahanadi river water drains into the sea. “While Odisha utilises 13 per cent of the Mahanadi water, Chhattisgarh gets only 4 per cent,” he added. The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister further said the Mahanadi river water dispute will not exist if BJP comes to power in Odisha.
After arriving at Burda at noon, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister accompanied by the State BJP leaders including leader of the BJP legislature party KV Singhdeo went straight to the meeting place. Singh also addressed public meetings in Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts as part of his campaign schedule. Meanwhile, the BJD has criticised the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister for trying to mislead the people of Odisha by avoiding the issue of construction of barrages over river Mahanadi by his Government.
“He is trying to create more confusion on the issue rather than clearing the misunderstanding between the two States,” BJD spokesperson Sashi Bhusan Behera told mediapersons here. Referring to Singh’s offer to resolve the issue through talks between the two States, Behera demanded that the Chhattisgarh Government should first stop all ongoing work to pave the way for negotiation to settle the dispute.