New Delhi, June 28: A young man from Odisha walked 1,300km for 71 days, a bag on his back and the national flag in his hand, to reach the Prime Minister’s door on Wednesday evening to ask him about a promise he had made 3 years ago.
Muktikant Biswal, a 30-year-old from Rourkela, said he submitted a letter in the Dak section of the Prime Minister’s Office seeking an appointment with Narendra Modi.
He did not get any assurance about a meeting.
“The Prime Minister had promised the people of Rourkela in April 2015 that the Ispat General Hospital (IGH) there would be upgraded to a super-speciality hospital. The Prime Minister has also promised early completion of a second bridge on the Brahmani River. Nothing has happened on both the projects. I will remind him about his promises,” Biswal, a sculptor by profession, told The Telegraph.
“I will wait 3 days. If I don’t get any call, I will sit on dharna wherever I am allowed.”
On April 1, 2015, on his first visit to Odisha as Prime Minister, Modi had said the Government of India had decided to develop the hospital in Rourkela, in Sundergarh district, as a medical college-cum-superspeciality hospital.
Modi had also said the second bridge over the Brahmani River, which passes through Sundergarh, would be completed soon.
Earlier on Wednesday, Biswal had reached 1, Motilal Nehru Marg, the Delhi residence of Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, the local MP from Sundergarh.
Biswal had wanted Oram to help him fix an appointment with Modi. But the Minister refused.
Biswal recalled his interaction with Oram, a “disappointing” 10 minutes after his long walk from Odisha that began in April.
“The Minister is our local MP. I wanted his help for a meeting with the Prime Minister. He said he wouldn’t help me get an appointment and also gave incorrect information that work had started on both projects. He also insulted my 71-day march and said it had been sponsored by (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi. Nobody sponsored my march. It was a mistake to approach my local MP,” Biswal said.
“I am from the area. No work has been started (on either project,” Biswal added, challenging Oram to disclose the name of the agency or the contractor given the contract for the bridge.
After leaving Oram’s house Biswal sat on the pavement outside and had his food before setting out for the PMO.
Oram told this newspaper later that the Congress was using Biswal to target him. “I am a tribal. I have become a Cabinet Minister at the Centre for the second time. Many people can’t digest this. They are jealous of me. They have sponsored his march,” he said.
Biswal’s march, the Minister added, will have no impact on the ground.
While the Congress did not react to Oram’s allegation, a post on the party website says it has raised Rs 17.69 lakh in donations collected for the hospital upgrade. The collection drive ends on Thursday.
Biswal had started on his march on April 16. He said he slept rough on the roadside and ate in dhabas during his 71-day march and didn’t take the help of any local Congress leader.
He fell ill in Agra, where people took him to hospital and got him admitted for 2 days.
“If any political people supported me, why should I march alone? Will the Minister walk this long if anybody sponsors him,” Biswal said.
Asked if he planned to meet Rahul, the young man said he wouldn’t try to meet any leader from any party but would make an exception if invited.