In a decision which has sparked off speculation of preparation for an early poll, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday announced bi-cycles for all Class X students of BPL families in the State.
The decision will benefit 1.6 lakh students all over the State. Naveen took the decision after the immense success of the Government’s scheme to provide bi-cycles to all the Class X girl students. The Government also provides free bi-cycles to all the Class X boys belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.
All the three schemes taken together will benefit 4.5 lakh Class X students in the State. The new scheme will cost the State exchequer more than Rs 40 cr per annum. Naveen had launched the cycle scheme for girl students in Gajapati district last year. The State Government had made a budget provision of Rs 75 cr for the cycle scheme.
While the BJD leaders maintain that the Chief Minister may be thinking of an early poll because of the present political situation, the Opposition parties have described it as yet another populist scheme. The Chief Minister is straining the exchequer to derive political mileage, a senior Congress leader said.
Sources maintained that the Chief Minister is toying with the idea of going to polls in 2013, and not in 2014 along with other States in the general elections.
The bi-cycle scheme, along with rice at Rs 2 a kg scheme, had derived much political mileage in the panchayat polls in which the BJD had won an unprecedented number of seats. As the Chief Minister is feeling shaky because of the dissidents and the Opposition is breathing down his neck over a number of scams, he is announcing schemes after schemes.
Besides the Rs 2-a-kg rice and bi-cycle schemes, the Chief Minister has announced Mamata scheme for pregnant and lactating women and the Biju Setu Yojana (BSY) during the last six months to be implemented from the State Government’s own resources.