As the demand for a special status for Odisha is growing every passing day, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is gearing up to hold a grand ‘Swabhimaan Rally in New Delhi on June 12. The BJD takes a cue from Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s “Adhikar Rally’ in Delhi in March 2013. The rally will be held at Ramlila Maidan.
The BJD had launched a signature campaign on April 28 to collect one crore signatures to intensify its demand for special category status (SCS) for Odisha. Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia has already rejected Odisha’s demand, saying the state does not fulfill the criteria meant for SCS.
“Under the existing criteria approved by the National Development Council, Odisha does not qualify for grant of special category status,” Ahluwalia said in a letter to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. He listed those criteria – “hilly and difficult terrain, low population density and /or sizable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances”, while rejecting Odisha’s demand.
The BJD expects to have more than 30,000 people participate in the rally on June 12. Six special trains will be booked to take the people from Bhubaneswar to Delhi. In addition, efforts are being made to get the support of Odia people living in Delhi so that the rally becomes a huge success and forces the Centre to consider Odisha’s demands.
BJD supremo and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik will take charge of BJD’s offensive in Delhi. He will be accompanied by all top leaders and office-bearers in the party. The Congress has dubbed the movement as Naveen’s tactics to divert the attention from his government’s failure and has decided to launch a campaign across the state to highlight this.