BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik on Saturday criticised the Naveen Patnaik Government for increasing salary of MLAs and Ministers without providing any succour to distressed farmers. “The Chief Minister has increased his own salary and the salary of Ministers, MLAs and Ex-MLAs, while the agrarian crisis in the State is deteriorating because of severe drought condition in many pockets,” former president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) told mediapersons here on Saturday.
The Odisha Government on Friday introduced four Bills in the House seeking enhancement of salary, allowances and pension of MLAs, speaker, deputy speaker and ministers. An MLA would get about `one lakh per month as salary. “The house should have first voted for a comprehensive package for farmers before passing Bills for salary hike of ministers, MLAs and increase in pension of former MLAs,” he said.
Describing the State Government’s argument that it does not have funds to fulfil the demands of the farmers as not correct, Patnaik said the Government will receive nearly `17,000 crore in next three months from mine owners because of the Supreme Court judgement. Besides, auctioning of mines will add another few thousand crores to the State exchequer, he said.
So, the Government should plan a comprehensive package for the farm sector with an outlay of a minimum of `one lakh crore, Patnaik said. “Instead of helping farmers, the Government is planning to allocate money to be earned from mining sector for roads and bridges to benefit from PC (percentage commission),” he said and added, “This money belongs to farmers and must be ploughed back to them.”
The senior Congress leader also criticised the Centre for ignoring the demands of the farmers. “The Modi Government has money for bullet trains and has announced that removing poverty from Eastern India is their priority. Let the Centre prove it,” he said.