BHUBANESWAR: Even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had a measured response over allocation to Odisha in the Railway Budget, the ruling BJD MLAs on Wednesday strongly protested in the Assembly accusing the NDA Government of neglecting 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 feet holding placards denouncing allocations made for Odisha in the Railway Budget.
They later staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on the Assembly premises and shouted slogans against the Centre 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 the State 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 Centre responsible for the low allocation in the Railway Budget, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra asked the Chief Minister 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 and alleged that the Chief Minister probably wanted to keep Odisha backward so that the BJD 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.
Samir Ranjan Dash of the BJD slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for backtracking on his promise made during the election campaign. The Prime Minister had promised to invest a major share from the Railway’s earning in the State towards infrastructure development. While the Railways had a revenue earning of Rs 14,000 crore from the State, the Centre has ignored Odisha in the budget.
Leader of the BJP Legislature Party Basant Panda, however, defended the Centre by claiming that the State has been sanctioned about `600 crore more than it got in the previous year’s Railway budget.
Describing the budget revolutionary and progressive, Panda said the State Government must take the Opposition into confidence while making demands before the Centre. 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 the Centre’s neglect to the State in the Railway budget.