By Anurjay Dhal
BHUBANESWAR: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will take his Friday lunch at Naveen Niwas , the official residence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, sources said. The Union Home Minister, who arrived here to attend a high level meet of Eastern Zonal Council, will later take his lunch at Naveen Niwas on invitation of Chief Minister Patnaik.
The lunch on meeting of Shah and Patnaik assumed greater significance with Rajya Sabha polls nearing with BJD short of numbers to retain all 4 seats from Odisha while BJP eyeing on 4th seats even despite lacking adequate numbers in hand.
Meanwhile, the 24th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council, comprising of the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, started on Friday here .
The Union Home Minister Shah is chairing the meeting. Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, is the Vice-Chairman and host. Chief Ministers of Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand respectively, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and Hemant Soren, will also participate.
The Chief Ministers have been accompanied by two Cabinet Ministers from each State, as members of the Council, and Chief Secretary & other senior officers of the States. Secretaries/Additional Secretaries and other senior officers of the Central Government were attending the meeting. Last meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council was last held in Kolkata on October 1, 2018.
The upcoming meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council will deliberate upon nearly 4 dozen issues which inter alia include inter-State water issues, power transmission lines, royalty on & operationalization of coals mines, land & forest clearance of rail projects, investigation of heinous offences, cattle smuggling across country’s borders, lack of telecom & banking infrastructure in remote areas, petroleum projects, sharing pattern on centrally collected revenues etc. With such senior level participation of political leadership and officers, a large number of issues are likely to get resolved by consensus in the meeting.
Five Zonal Councils were set up in the year 1957 under Section 15-22 of the States Reorganization Act, 1956. The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these 5 Zonal Councils and Chief Minister of the host State, to be chosen by rotation every year, is the Vice-Chairman.
Two more Ministers from each State are nominated as Members by the Governor. The Council takes up issues involving Centre and States, and among Member-States falling in the Zone and thus provide a forum for resolving disputes and irritants between them.
The Zonal Councils discuss broad range of issues, which include boundary related disputes, security, infrastructure related matters like road, transport, industries, water and power etc., matters pertaining to forests & environment, housing, education, food security, tourism, transport, etc.
Howvere, the Odisha unit of BJP led by its new President Samir Mohanty with major boost from Union PNG-Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has geared up to show a major show of strength during the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s Rally on CAA-NRC here at the sprawling Janata Maidan in State’s Capital of Bhubaneswar on Friday.
Union Minister Pradhan along with Party leaders including State President Mohanty, Golak Mohapatra, Pritwiraj Harichandan, Suratha Biswal, Kalandi Samal, Tankadhar Tripathy, Thakur Ranjit Das and other visited the Janata Maidan to take stock of the preparations for Friday’s Rally.
BJP sources said over 1 lakh people expected to attend the Rally. Saffron flags and hoardings have been flooded fom Biju Patnaik Airport to BJP State Party Office and from there to Janata Maidan, the meeting venue.