Odisha neglect, Centre’s success story: Naveen

Patnaik alleged that despite the state providing funds for central projects, there was no progress of it in Odisha.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik paying tributes to former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik during the BJD Foundation Day function on Wednesday | Irfana
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik paying tributes to former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik during the BJD Foundation Day function on Wednesday | Irfana

BHUBANESWAR:  In a bid to turn tables on the opposition political parties ahead of the 2019 polls, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik played up the issue of Odisha’s interest and demanded financial autonomy for the State. Launching a scathing attack on the BJP-led Central Government for neglecting the State’s development, he said, “Give me financial autonomy, I will no more need special category status or Central grant for Odisha. I will develop Odisha with its own funds.”

That the Chief Minister used the platform of 21st foundation day of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to go on an offensive assumes significance as the opposition BJP and Congress are leaving no stone unturned to corner the State Government for its failures on various fronts. He even invoked the ‘Biju legacy’ by taking up the issue which was also raised by his father late Biju Patnaik in the early 1990s.

Hitting out at the Centre for extracting huge benefits from Odisha but giving nothing in return for its development, the Chief Minister also raised the issue of Central neglect in all spheres. Naveen’s attack on the Centre comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the BJD Government alleging corruption and failure in all key sectors. It is also seen as a bid to dispel perceptions about a tacit understanding between BJD and BJP.

Unsparing in his attack, laced with sarcasm, Naveen listed nine achievements (meaning failures) of the Centre which have affected Odisha’s development. While the Centre boasts of having ensured mobile connectivity to all, in Odisha “one has to learn climbing trees to be able to speak on BSNL network,” he said.

Referring to Railways, the Chief Minister said though the State has provided free land and borne half the cost of major rail projects, the Khurda-Balangir rail line remains incomplete. The Railways get Rs 20,000 crores from the State annually but there is no sincerity towards expanding rail network and provide quality services in Odisha, he said. Listing out the sectors which have been victims of Central neglect, he brought up the pathetic condition of national highways. 

The coastal highway project remained confined to the announcement in the last four-and-a-half years. On the issue of coal royalty, the Chief Minister said there has been no revision in coal royalty though it would take only five minutes for the Centre to decide. “Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) is making a profit of Rs 20,000 crore but Odisha is getting pollution,” he said. Referring to the BJP’s claims of huge success of demonetisation, Naveen said people were made to stand in lines in front of banks but common people are still deprived of banking services in the State. Farmers are unable to get compensation of crop insurance in time and are being harassed by private insurance companies.

On the much-trumpeted Ujjwala Yojana, the BJD president said it had completely failed to benefit the poor who are not able to afford refills due to the high cost of  LPG cylinders. He slammed the BJP for failing to keep the promises made in 2014 elections like the Special Category Status for Odisha, hike in MSP of paddy and 33 per cent reservation for women. He alleged that both the Congress and the BJP have all along neglected Odisha for which the State and its people are suffering. Stating that the national political parties appear before the people only at the time of elections, he said they disappear after making false promises as they have little concern for Odisha.

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