“The (new) venue of Exhibition Ground will seat 5,000, while 10,000 people can stand and watch the ceremony. There will also be an exhibition on the 150th Gandhi Jayanti, which will be inaugurated by the CM,” Twin City Police Commissioner and senior IPS officer Satyajit Mohanty told reporters.
A senior police officer said, “There will be no march past. Normally, every year there are 30-40 contingents from local schools, NCC, police, CAPF, and even civilians, St John’s ambulance, scouts and guides conduct a march. This year there will be no marches… this decision is expected to reduce the timing of the ceremony by 30-40 minutes.”
The BJP’s Odisha unit said it was unfortunate if the mass parade has been cancelled because the Chief Minister will be unable to stand for too long. “We want to ask the state government why it has changed the precedent of 72 years. The venue has been changed. But more importantly the mass parade has been dropped. We are hearing that the CM will be unable to stand and take the salute for too long. If that is the case, then it is very unfortunate,” said BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan.
However, the ruling BJD said the decision to forgo marches this year was taken as per norms followed in many other states.
“Since 10 years, we are hearing (allegations) about the CM’s ill health (from BJP). These things have no meaning,” said Information and Public Relations Minister Raghunandan Das.
Patnaik’s health has continued to be a topic of discussion in the state.