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Naveen Patnaik’s New Mantra, Take BJP Head On

The big defeat of Biju Janata Dal both in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections has not put BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on the back foot. On the contrary, there is now a new spring in his stride and he has decided to take the BJP head on both in his state and at the Centre. With his party losing all the Lok Sabha seats, Patnaik has asked his party’s nine Rajya Sabha MPs to work in a cohesive fashion and strongly raise Odisha issues in the Rajya Sabha. The most important issue for Naveen babu is the long-standing demand for Special Category status for Odisha as it is prone to natural disasters. BJD leader in Rajya Sabha Sasmit Patra said, “The BJD MPs this time will not be confined to speaking on issues only, but are determined to agitate if the BJP-led government at the Centre ignores Odisha’s interest”.  BJD MPs will also raise the issues of poor mobile connectivity and low density of bank branches in the state, speedy completion of National and Coastal Highway projects, demand for revision of coal royalty which has been ignored by the Centre for the last 10 years. BJD seems to have a long laundry list: AIIMS in Sambalpur, Koraput and Balasore; IT parks, semiconductor, textile parks; 20 lakh houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; Kendriya Vidyalayas in each block of Odisha; Eklavya schools in every scheduled (tribal) block.