Taking a cue from Bihar, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday held an impressive ‘Swabhiman Samabesh’ rally here, demanding special category status (SCS) to Odisha.
A delegation of BJD leaders led by Naveen Patnaik met President Pranab Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum with one crore signatures, each signature from almost every household in Odisha, seeking special category status for the state.
Earlier in the day, addressing the rally, Naveen Patnaik made it clear that the demand for special status would continue till the state achieved the just demand because it concerned the ‘Oriya dignity’.
Patnaik, who spoke in Odisha accused the UPA of political discrimination in grant of Central assistance.
Maintaining that the UPA is following different policies for different states, the BJD chief said that the political discrimination policy adopted by the UPA was a ‘dangerous trend’.
Patnaik said: “The Central Government has been granting vast funds for political reasons to states like Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, but the Planning Commission very recently rejected Odisha’s demand. I have no objection to any part of India getting funds, but I think it’s constitutionally incorrect to give it on these blatant political grounds.”
Referring to the demand for special status to Odisha as long pending, Patnaik said that the nation could not move forward by denying even one state of its rightful claim.
However, successive governments at the Centre have ignored their demand for justice. Patnaik accused the UPA Government of ignoring the just demands of states like Odisha which fulfil the criteria for grant of special status.
BJD leaders who spoke during the rally warned the Centre to listen to the voice of the four crore people of Odisha and accord special status to the state or face the fire once they’ve won the Lok Sabha polls and are in a position to dictate terms to the Centre.