Puri International Airport Dominates Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik-PM Modi Talks

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said that the discussions during the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi centered around the proposed international airport in the pilgrim town of Odisha, Puri. 

“The discussions were mostly related to Odisha’s demand. I spoke to him about Shri Jagannath International Airport which we plan to set up in Puri and apprised him about the boundary for the project being already earmarked. There has been an increase in air traffic to Bhubaneswar and we definitely want an expansion. The PM assured help in every way possible,” the CM told mediapersons.

The site clearance for the airport is pending with Ministry of Civil Aviation since September 2022. Naveen requested that the same may be expedited, sources said.

He also requested for extension of ‘Údyami’ scheme and provision of five free connections in each GP for Bharat Net Phase II.

Naveen also urged Modi for early completion of eight National Highway projects which had begun in 2017 and 2018. They also spoke about opening more bank branches in unbanked GPs of the state, the sources added.

The CM asserted that the discussion did not veer into the realm of electoral politics.

Naveen is on a 4-day visit to New Delhi and will return to Odisha on May 13. Sources had earlier stated that the visit was focussed on seeking the Centre’s cooperation in sanctioning more houses for Odisha under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, expediting implementation of some key railway and highway projects.

However, the timing of his visit, coming a day after he meet Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in Bhubaneswar, evoked a lot of curiosity in political circles. While Naveen-Nitish meeting was perceived as an attempt to tell Modi & Co that if they step up their bellicosity against his dispensation with an eye on the 2024 polls then he very well had the option to join hands with proponents of the Third Front, there was speculation that he might call on his Delhi counterpart and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in what could further send signals that BJD is trying to play footsie with non-BJP parties interested to cobble an anti-NDA coalition.

Some reports, however, suggested that the visit and meeting with PM Modi were aimed at dousing such speculation.

When asked about joining the Third Front, the CM said: “No, not as far as I am concerned. Not now.” He added that the BJD would go solo in 2024 twin polls as that has always been the principle of the party.

Notably, the BJD, which has since 2009 been officially claiming to have maintained equidistance from both BJP and Congress, has avoided joining either the NDA or evolving a non-BJP alliance so far by skipping all meetings aimed at forging a Third Front.

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