A day after the massive rally of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at New Delhi demanding special category state (SCS) status, members cutting across party lines demanded in the Assembly on Monday that Odisha should also get special status because of its backwardness.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Santosh Singh Saluja (Cong) said a unanimous resolution should be adopted demanding SCS status. Referring to Sunday’s rally of Nitish Kumar, Saluja said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should also organise such a rally at New Delhi. The Congress member said because of the growing demand from different States, the Centre is now contemplating to relax the guidelines.
Leader of BJP Legislature Party K V Singhdeo also said the Chief Minister should organise a rally of Odia people from Odisha and New Delhi at Ramlila Maidan and speak to them in Odia on the SCS status demand. The BJP fully supports the demand, he said.
However, several BJD leaders were quite critical of the Congress for ignoring the State’s demand for a long period and now shedding crocodile tears. There is no need to follow Nitish Kumar for this as SCS status is a long standing demand of the State, former minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei said and added that the demand was also in the BJD’s election manifesto. The State is awaiting the changes to be brought by the Centre in the criteria for conferring SCS status, he said.
His party colleague Amar Prasad Satpathy said the Congress has always neglected Odisha. In the last reshuffle, the State’s demand for one more minister was ignored by the Prime Minister and Odisha has now only a Minister of State at the Centre.
Ranendra Pratap Swain (BJD) said the Centre is now contemplating to change the criteria as a sop to Telangana. Stating that the demand was in the BJD’s election manifesto, Swain criticised the Congress for playing a double-game now as elections are round the corner.
Congress member Naba Kishore Das, however, maintained that the BJD’s demand for SCS status is only a political stunt as the Government is not able to spend the Central grants fully. When Odisha does not need the SCS status, what is the use of scoring political points in the House, he said.