BJD is BJP’s B team, says Jairam Ramesh

Jairam also hit out at both the Centre and the state government for ensuring complete poisoning and death of Mahanadi and Kathjodi by not cleaning up the rivers as promised in 2019.
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh
Congress General Secretary Jairam RameshFILE Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS

BHUBANESWAR : General secretary of All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) Jairam Ramesh on Monday hit out at the BJD describing it as the B team of BJP in Odisha. He said the regional party has failed to put pressure on Centre to reduce the high GST on kendu leaves.

Stating the BJD and BJP have a tacit understanding, Jairam, in a post on X said their seat-sharing negotiations earlier this year had confirmed the notion. Besides, BJD bailed out BJP on numerous occasions in the Parliament during the last 10 years. Centre too has spared BJD of the bullying and intimidation it usually reserves for Opposition-ruled states. “Can the prime minister come clean on his party’s association with the BJD,” he asked. The senior Congress leader, whose visit coincided with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Odisha, came down on the Centre for not reducing GST on kendu leaves which is collected by tribals and other forest dwelling communities even as tax breaks are being extended to affluent people. “The BJP’s anti-adivasi mentality explains why GST on diamond is 1.5 per cent while it is 18 per cent on kendu leaves,” he said.

Stating kendu leaf collection and sale is the financial backbone of lakhs of Odisha’s poor, the Congress leader said it is collected by tribals and other forest dwelling communities. “Of course, BJP’s B team, the BJD, has been unable to apply any pressure to get this rate changed,” he added.

Jairam also hit out at both the Centre and the state government for ensuring complete poisoning and death of Mahanadi and Kathjodi by not cleaning up the rivers as promised in 2019. Ground reports indicate massive encroachment of the river bed, sand mining, garbage and dumping of debris have caused the slow death of the two rivers, he said.

The Congress leader said the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) had also tested water samples of the rivers and found it is not fit for any kind of use. “But the BJP controlled Centre and the B team in state government have ensured the complete poisoning and death of the two rivers,” he added.

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