Naveen Patnaik to meet Odias in Surat on December 17

BHUBANESWAR: In a first, chief minister Naveen Patnaik will personally reach out to around seven lakh Odias settled in Gujarat?s Surat by attending Mahotsav, an event organized by the community on December 17.

Naveen?s visit to the city assumes significance as Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan had in September attended Odisha Parba, which had been organized by another Odia outfit, in the same city.

Both BJD and BJP want to strike an emotional chord with Gujarat?s Odias, who hail mostly from and are engaged in powerloom units and diamond factories in Surat.

?Over the years, Odisha has marched ahead in several sectors. We are poised to become the sports capital of the country and the manufacturing hub of eastern India. The Odia community in Surat wants to celebrate the success of the state through Odisha Mahotsav,? said former minister and Ganjam district BJD president Pradeep Panigrahy. He added that the programme would showcase the state?s culture, tradition and tourism hotspots, while highlighting the social welfare initiatives of the BJD government.

Besides Naveen, all 13 BJD MLAs from Ganjam, MPs and tourism minister Ashok Panda will attend Odisha Mahotsav. More than a dozen film stars ? all from the ruling BJD ? will be a part of the celebrations.

BJD insiders said BJP?s performance in the Odia-dominated areas of in last year?s assembly election in that state had forced the Naveen-led party to reach out to the people there.

While finance minister Shashi Bhusan Behera had led a delegation to Surat in July to examine the problems faced by powerloom workers after the introduction of GST, the petroleum ministry had in September organized Purvodaya ? an investors? meet ? in the city to discuss investment opportunities in the textiles sector in Odisha.

Days ahead of Purvodaya, Naveen had urged the Centre to introduce direct flight between Bhubaneswar and Surat and two daily trains from Berhampur. The demands are yet to be fulfilled. The organizers have planned to gather around one lakh people to attend Odisha Mahotsav.
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