Preparations are in full swing in Odisha to welcome Home Minister Amit Shah who will reach Bhubaneswar on Sunday night.
The twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are bedecked with posters, banners and placards of Shah, who will visit the state for the first time after becoming the home minister.
Shah’s programmes will start with a visit to the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar on the last Monday of ‘Shravana’.
He will then go to Cuttack to visit Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthplace in Odia bazaar. He will also lead a roadshow from Odia Bazar to the Indoor Stadium where he will attend the 75th anniversary of Odia daily ‘Prajatantra’, founded by former chief minister Harekrushna Mahatab.
The newspaper’s anniversary programme will also be attended by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and BJD workers have also planned to give him a big reception when he reaches the area, setting the stage for a face-off. Shah will then return to Cuttack and hold a meeting of the state BJP’s core committee at its headquarters, they said.
Later, he will launch the Odisha edition of ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’, a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s completion of 20 years in office — from becoming the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001. He will leave Odisha on Monday night. “There is a lot of enthusiasm among the party workers in the state,” state BJP president Samir Mohanty said, adding that Shah will be welcomed by party workers at different places when he travels from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack on Monday.
Several cultural troops have been hired to perform for welcoming Shah, who is credited with the BJP’s growth in Odisha. Shah had last visited the state during the 2019 elections when he addressed a public meeting in Bhubaneswar.
The ruling BJD of the state and opposition Congress are also keeping a close watch on Shah’s visit, which comes amid actions by CBI and ED in the state.
The ED has so far attached properties of three former BJD leaders in chit fund cases, while CBI arrested some people in connection with the Paradip Port irregularities.
Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati claimed that Shah’s visit will trigger “fear psychosis” among the BJD leaders.
He, however, said that it has nothing to do with the Congress because it does not have “traders” as leaders. Senior BJD MLA Sasibhusan Behera said Shah’s visit will have no impact on his party.
“His visit may encourage the BJP workers, but that does not mean that the BJD will get panicked,” he said. With an eye on 2024, when the Odisha assembly will go to the polls along with the Lok Sabha, BJP has appointed a new leader of opposition in the state, Jaynarayan Mishra, who has declared that his party is working for a “BJD-mukt Odisha”.