Even as Delhi witnessed the worst communal violence since Partition that has left at least 39 people dead this week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will on Friday address a rally at the Janata Maidan in Bhubaneshwar in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Shah will attend the rally after chairing a meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC), which will be attended by four chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee, a bitter critic of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Though Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, who will also be present in the city today for the EZC meet, have backed the CAA, both have made clear that they are against the NRC.
At least 39 people have been killed and over 200 injured after clashes erupted between the supporters and opponents of CAA in Northeast Delhi. Armed mobs rampaged through parts of northeast Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, looting and burning buildings and attacking the people.
The violence started on Saturday last week after BJP leader Kapil Mishra carried out a rally in Jaffrabad area and gave a three-day ultimatum to the anti-CAA protesters in the area to clear.
Meanwhile, Odisha BJP president Samir Mohanty said the rally to be addressed by Amit Shah was part of his party’s countrywide awareness programme on CAA undertaken in January following protests by the opposition against the amended law.
Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Babul Supriyo and Giriraj Singh and BJP MP Rupa Ganguli have already addressed public meetings counting virtues of CAA in different places of Odisha including Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Jeypore.
Apart from organizing awareness campaigns and rallies on the CAA in all organisational districts of Odisha, BJP workers have congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah by sending postcard messages.
Mohanty on Wednesday had flagged off a fleet of campaign vehicles whose purpose is to inform people about the rally.
State BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said that the Congress and some other political parties were trying to mislead people on the amended citizenship law and Friday’s public meeting was aimed at making it clear that CAA is in the national interest.
However, a senior state Congress leader hit out at the BJP for organising the rally even as Delhi slowly comes to term with the communal riots that plagued various areas.
Congress MLA Suresh Routray said that at a time when the national capital was witnessing bloodshed over CAA, Home Minister Amit Shah should be in Delhi to ensure peace there instead of visiting Odisha.
“What will he (Shah) tell the people in Odisha? The Home Minister should stay in Delhi and do the needful at a time when the national capital is burning,” he said.
The ruling BJD also took a swipe at the rally in support of CAA to be addressed by Shah. Party spokesperson PK Deb said such awareness exercise should have been done much before amending the citizenship law and enacting the new law.
Apart from attending the EZC meeting and the pro-CAA rally, Amit Shah will also meet state BJP leaders to discuss strategies for strengthening the party in Odisha, sources told PTI.
He is also scheduled to visit the Jagannath Temple in Puri and Lord Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar on the concluding day of his Odisha visit on February 29.
(With PTI inputs)