Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 20:
The egg pelting episode yesterday killed all the excitement of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s maiden visit to Utkal University ( Vani Vihar)’s student union function in 15 years.
The university, long considered a fortress of the students’ wing of the Congress, ended up in BJD’s fold in the recent students’ union elections giving the CM an opportunity to visit the campus without expecting any hitch.
The CM had been avoiding this venue ever since became Chief Minister in 2000 to avoid protests by Congress supporting students. He had apparently been assured of a safe passage this time by men from the youth wing of his party.
Unfortunately, he had to face what was feared the most. His carcade was stopped, black flags were shown and eggs and sandals were thrown at his him (none hit him though as the window glass was rolled up). Even though the incident dod not take place inside the campus, it was not very far away from the campus either.
Worst part was: the culprits were the usual suspects. Members of the Youth Congress were behind the attack.
The incident had its echo at the function venue of Vani Vihar, located a few kilometres away. While the CM himself was visibly shocked though he attempted to smile all the while, the discomfiture of other guests (BJD leaders) sitting alongside had to be seen to be believed.
To top it all up, two ministers out of the six invited – Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak and Energy Minister Pranab Prakash Das – and the President of the BJD students’ wing Byomkesh ray were conspicuously absent.
Curiously enough, Madhusmita Das, the advisor of the students union and Suryakant Sahu, the General Secretary of the union went on to welcome the absent guests as mentioned in their script. As if that was not enough, she did quite a bit of appreciation of the absent leaders.
The CM, who was scheduled to lay foundation for three hostels including two ladies hostel with 500 beds each and a boys hostel with 300 beds, did so just near the dais. His reluctance to go another few hundred yards to the site to lay the foundation was not received well by the students either.
The Chief Minister, however, did his bit to woo the students announcing a Rs 100 crore package for infrastructural development of the university campus.
Besides, a rural campus of the university would be opened at Chandikhol at a cost of Rs 15 crores to impart vocational training to the youth from rural areas, he said.