Bhubaneswar, Oct 28 (PTI) To silence opposition BJP and Congress which often criticise him for holding virtual rallies for the November 3 bypolls, BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday said he avoids physical visit to assembly segments keeping in mind the public health.
Patnaik, who usually operates from his residence since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, said: 'I am aware of your immense love and affection towards me. If I visit, you (people) will come in large numbers which may not be good for the public health during this pandemic situation. Therefore, I preferred to reach you through digital mode.' Odisha's five time chief minister also promised that he will certainly undertake a special tour to Tirtol area in Jagatsinghpur district after improvement in the pandemic situation.
He was addressing the first virtual meeting through digital mode for the people of Tirtol assembly segment where the bypolls will be held following the demise of BJD's sitting MLA B C Das. The ruling party has fielded Das's son Bijay Shankar Das as its candidate in Tirtol.
Claiming that Odisha has emerged as a 'model' for other states in the COVID-19 management, Patnaik said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also appreciated the state government for its effective handling of the pandemic situation.
He also thanked the people of Odisha and dedication of the COVID Warriors for the state's success in COVID-19 management. The state has registered above 94 per cent of recovery while the case fatality rate stands at 0.44.
The chief minister also cautioned the voters of Tirtol to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines while going to cast their votes on November 3. 'Your life is precious for your family as well as for me also. Therefore, wear face masks, maintain social distancing during elections,' he said.
Patnaik also preferred to remind the people that the state has been able to attract investment during the pandemic situation and said the grounding of projects will generate employment for Odisha youths.
While seeking vote for party candidate Bijay Shankar Das, the BJD president appealed to people to vote for the 'Conch' symbol for the overall development of the state and Tirtol.
He said the state government has taken necessary steps to regulate flood in Tirtol, adding that the state government has already started works for construction of two bridges over river Mahanadi.
In its bid to woo the women voters, Patnaik praised the works of the Mission Shakti. He urged the members of different women self-help groups to continue with their good work. 'I am always with you to help in times of need,' the chief minister said.
The BJD president is scheduled to address another virtual rally for the Balasore Sadar constituency on Thursday, party sources said.
Meanwhile, BJP's Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi criticised the BJD president's virtual rally. 'It is laughable that the BJD president campaigns from his residence,' Sarangi said.
Senior Congress MLA and former minister Suresh Routray said: 'Naveen Babu has not come out of his house since the COVID pandemic. The people do not appreciate his digital campaign and virtual rally.' PTI AAM RG RG