Ahead of the Hockey World Cup in Odisha which is scheduled in January 2023, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sent invites to several leaders including almost all of the non-BJP Chief Ministers.
The event though non-political is seen through the prism of politics, considering the list of invitees.
According to the Odisha government, the tournament will showcase the state’s prowess in building and supporting massive infrastructure projects for world-class tournaments like the Hockey World Cup.
Pictures show the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, accepting the invitation sent on behalf of Mr Patnaik.
There has been a lot of political buzz over an invitation to Chief Ministers from Congress in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh.
According to sources, they have accepted the invitations and confirmed that they will attend.
Mr Patnaik, who has maintained that his party, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), is equidistant from the BJP and the Congress was seen as someone whom the BJP could reach out to if needed.
The move to invite all state chiefs, including Congress, BJP and other Opposition parties is seen as a move to consolidate his non-Congress, non-BJP position.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao have been invited as well to the opening ceremony event.
Several Union Ministers including, Dharmendra Pradhan and Kiren Rijiju have also been invited.
While top BJD sources have said that the event is not political, the list of invitees, including the political ones, shows how Mr Patnaik is a master of managing perceptions.
Mr Patnaik, who recently said, his party will serve the people of Odisha for 200 years, is keen to bolster his image as a development-oriented politician who also cares for the people.
His poverty alleviation, relief and rehabilitation schemes have already earned national and international repute.
In the last few years, Odisha has also earned praise for the development of sports infrastructure, especially for hockey.
The Hockey World Cup will be held in two cities of the state, the capital – Bhubaneswar, and steel city Rourkela.
While the ground at the Kalinga Stadium is already operational, the modern and state of art Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela was built amidst the pandemic and will be hosting around 20 games during the tournament.
Estimates say it has cost Odisha around Rs 261 crore. Mr Patnaik will inaugurate the stadium in early January. Around 1,200 people worked round the clock to ensure the stadium is ready on time.
The stadium can hold over 20,000 spectators and will be one of the largest hockey stadiums in India.
Accommodation of 225 players and support staff ha also been built to house players and support staff since Rourkela cannot cater to the rush that the city will see during the world cup.
The Taj Group will be managing the facility in Rourkela.
Rourkela has around 60 hotels in various capacities, and all are expected to be sold out during the tournament.
The Rourkela Airport has also undergone upgradation for the world cup, and will be able to accommodate the ATR 72 type aircraft after expanding the runway and passenger amenities.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has already granted a licence to the airport, making it ready for an opening along with the stadium.
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