BJD plans to hold cricket &football tournaments across Odisha to strengthen its rural base

PTI | Bhubaneswar | Updated: 24-01-2021 20:14 IST | Created: 24-01-2021 20:14 IST
BJD plans to hold cricket &football tournaments across Odisha to strengthen its rural base

The ruling BJD has come up witha plan to organise football and cricket tournaments frompanchayat to the district level in a bid to further strengthenits rural base following the BJP making inroads into theinterior areas of the state, party sources said on Sunday.

The politics of sports seem to be drawn to bolster theruling party's prospects in the panchayat and urban localbody polls expected in the middle of the year.

After stiff challenge from the BJP in the 2019 generalelections when the saffron party won eight out of the 21 LokSabha seats in Odisha, only four less than the BJD'S 12, theruling Biju Janata Dal is making all efforts to regain itsinfluence in the rural and tribal areas of the state.

The tournaments will be organised by the Youth andStudents wings of the BJD without having the partys electionsymbol (Conch), but its logo will carry the picture oflegendary leader and former Chief Biju Patnaik after whom theregional outfit is named.

The BJD is ruling the state since 2000.

The party has chosen tribal dominated Mayurbhanj districton pilot basis where the BJD appears weak in terms ofelectoral politics.

Odishas Sports Minister T K Behera, Revenue and DisasterManagement Minister Sudam Marndi, BJD youth wing presidentByomokesh Ray and BJD MLA Pranab Balabantray unveiled thelogo, jersey and trophy for the Mayurbhanj Premier League(MPL-2021) at a function held at Baripada on Saturday.

''The party will later extend the programme to otherdistricts after witnessing the success of MPL,'' a seniorleader said.

He said holding tournament from panchayat to districtlevel is the brainchild of BJDs organising secretary PranabPrakash Das, who is also in-charge of Mayurbhanj district.

The Mayurbhanj district is chosen for piloting thesporting experiment as the ruling party performed poorly inboth the previous panchayat polls in 2017 and later in generalelections in 2019.

The ruling party candidates could win only in three of thenine assembly segments in Mayurbhanj. Opposition BJP won sixassembly seats and Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat in 2019 generalelections.

This apart, the BJP also dominated the rural pockets ofMayurbhanj by winning 49 of the 56 Zilla Parishad seats whilethe ruling party finished with only seven seats.

While the football tournaments will start from February 8,the cricket leagues will begin from February 9, according tothe match fixture.

Party sources said that similar events will also be held inthe districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Nuapada in2021.

Opposition BJP and Congress have ridiculed the ruling partyfor using sports for its political gains, while the BJDdescribed it as an attempt to discover hidden sporting talentsin the districts.

''The Chief Minister is going to launch some programmeswhich will give a good platform to the budding talents toprove their mettle in state, national and internationallevel,'' BJD MLA Amar Satpathy said.

BJP spokesperson Amar Nayak, however, said that it is''political gimmick'' of the BJD to mislead the students andyouths across the state ahead of urban polls this year andrural polls likely in 2022.

''The BJD had also earlier raised Biju Yuva Vahini anddistributed mobile phone sets, bat and balls mong youths. Thisis another such attempt,'' Nayak said.

OPCC president Niranjan Pataik said this is a new''political stunt'' of the ruling party before the panchayat andcivic body polls.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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