The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has decided not to join the nationwide ‘bandh’ convened by anti-Congress parties on September 20 against Centre’s decision to increase diesel price and allow FDI in retail, saying it would affect the celebration of Nuakhai festival, which falls on the same day.
“The bandh would affect the transportation and other facilities during the festval. We have decided not to join the bandh,” said Kalpataru Das, state panchayati raj minister.
However, the party will hold state-wide protests against the diesel price hike and other issues tomorrow. “All wings of BJD party will stage dharnas in front of district headquarters against diesel price hike on Monday,” Das said.
Nuakhai is a prominent festival of the state, primarily observed in western Odisha to mark the arrival of new rice and other crops. Sources said, the BJD distanced itself from the bandh as did not want to be projected as anti-western Odisha.
The state government is already at loggerheads with various political and non-political organisations over its decision to go ahead with the Lower Suktel irrigation project in Bolangir district. While the agitators favoring the project are demanding speedy implementation of the project which has seen delay of nearly 11 years, people threatened with displacement have to block construction work that has been scheduled to start on September 27.
The 20-day long hunger-strike and dharna by supporters of the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project, was temporarily suspended on Saturday night following two rounds of discussions with officials of the state water resources department.
The decision of not to join the protest is also seen as the BJD’s desire to keep distance from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP had supported the ruling party by voting for its presidential candidate P A Sangma while the BJD on the other hand, abstained from voting in the vice presidential election, in which the BJP had fielded its leader Jasawant Singh.
The ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by NDA has also support from the Left parties and other merchant associations who are opposing a series of decisions taken by the central government, including allowing of foreign investment in retail sector, capping number of domestic cylinder usages and hike in diesel prices.