Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik Sunday asked the newly elected Lok Sabha MPs of the party to forcefully push for the demand for special category status for the state.
"He (Patnaik) impressed upon the need to raise the demand for special category state status for Odisha, which is vulnerable to natural calamities," said Chandra Sekhar Sahu, who was elected from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat.
Sahu, a former Union Minister, was speaking to reporters after Patnaik held a meeting with the 12 newly elected BJD MPs here to discuss the strategies to be adopted by the party and the issues to be raised in Parliament. Stating that the party MPs would press for three major demands, he said the BJD president emphasised the need for securing special category status for Odisha which would ensure speedy and balanced development of the state.
Noting that the BJD has been demanding special category status for Odisha for the last several years, Sahu said it will play a significant role in boosting the state's economy and elevating the status of the poor and downtrodden.
As Odisha with a long coastline is prone to frequent natural calamities, the chief minister also stressed the need for getting adequate funds from the Centre for disaster management and preparedness, he said.
In addition, the chief minister was of the view that the BJD MPs should press for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures, Sahu said adding "he (Patnaik) asked us to be sincere and work hard to make the BJD's presence felt."
Ahead of the elections, Naveen Patnaik had announced BJD's decision to nominate 33 per cent women candidates for Lok Sabha election. The regional party also put the formula into practice by fielding women candidates in seven out of the 21 parliamentary constituencies in the just concluded polls. Earlier, the chief minister had piloted a resolution in the state Assembly for 33 per cent quota for women in parliament and state legislatures.
The resolution was also adopted unanimously in the House after which Patnaik had taken up the matter with national leaders and other states. "We will do our best to safeguard the interest of Odisha and fight for the rights of the state," Sahu said dismissing suggestions that fall in the number of BJD Lok Sabha members from 20 to 12 may affect the effectiveness of the regional party in parliament.
Patnaik's strategic decision to nominate a women self-help group leader, considered as BJD's women empowerment mascot, seemed to have paid rich dividends to his party in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.
Pramila Bisoyi, who is in her seventies, has won the Aska seat by a margin 2,04,707 votes in her maiden poll battle against BJP's Anita Subhadarshini.
The other women candidates of the BJD who won Lok Sabha seats are Rajasjree Mallick (Jagatsinghpur), Chandrani Murmu (Keonjhar), Sarmistha Sethi (Jajpur) and Manjulata Mandal (Bhadrak). Five of the seven women candidates fielded by the BJD have emerged victorious in Lok Sabha polls.
Senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, who has won from Cuttack for the sixth time in a row, said seven of the 12 party MPs are completely new and they were briefed about their roles and responsibilities.
"We will work in unison and in a coordinated manner to ensure that Odisha gets what is due to the state from the Centre," Mahtab said.