BHUBANESWAR: Even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik remained silent in the Assembly today, over the allocation made for Odisha in the railway budget for 2014-15, the ruling BJD MLAs today strongly protested against the NDA government's attitude towards the state.
The issue was raised in the assembly during zero hour by BJD MLA Mahesh Sahoo and joined by others including former minister Amar Prasad Satpathy. The BJD members were on their legs holding placards denouncing allocations made for Odisha in the rail budget.
They later staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the assembly premises and shouted slogans against the central government alleging neglect of Odisha in the railway budget.
Opposition chief whip and Congress MLA from Jeypore Taraprasad Bahinipati held both the State and Union governments responsible for the neglect of Odisha in the railway budget.
He demanded that a resolution be adopted in the House on the issue and a delegation sent to meet both the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker over the state’s demands.
Holding both the state and the central government responsible for the low allocation in the railway budget, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to convene an all party meeting to discuss the matter.
"The state has been neglected by subsequent central governments in railway sector. The state has not been making the demand properly for which the railway sector remained neglected," Mishra said alleging that the Chief Minister probably wanted to keep Odisha backward so that the ruling party could capitalise on the central negligence slur.
"The Chief Minister must go beyond petty politics and work for the development of the state in real terms," Mishra said.
BJP legislature party leader Basant Panda, however, defended the Centre by claiming that the state has been sanctioned about Rs 500 crore more than it got in the previous year's railway budget. "The state must take the opposition into confidence while making demand before the rail budget," Panda said.
While MLAs protested inside the assembly, the activists of BJD's youth and students wing hit the streets and staged dharnas in front of all major railway stations in the state protesting against Odisha’s neglect in the rail budget.