BJD, BJP & Congress War Of Words Over Odisha CM’s Special Category Demand Before PM

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Bhubaneswar: In the wake of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s longstanding demand for according Special Category Status to Odisha by the Centre and following the Chief Minister’s significant meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday in New Delhi, the important development has sparked off political reactions here today.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik reacted, “Following the new law, there isn’t anything termed as Special Status. Thus, we have often suggested that the Chief Minister should demand Special Package for the sake of Odisha’s development and poverty alleviation.”

Taking a swipe at PM Modi’s Government, the senior Congress leader commented, “Besides not granting any special package to Odisha, the BJP Government has rather squeezed the KBK Yojana and several other schemes.”

He argued, “There is no more any provision for Special Category Status. It is not being accorded to any State. Otherwise, there are many States with the demand. Hence, basing on the condition of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and so on, our Chief Minister should demand Special Package for the development of our State. The Centre should take care of the poor States so that the economic status of the people is improved and poverty is alleviated.”

“The way Odisha Chief Minister has underlined and raised the word ‘focus’ is justified. Special Package and Focus are same. There is need for special focus on Odisha by the Centre,” the PCC chief remarked.  

Odisha BJP spokesperson Prithviraj Harichandan claimed, “The Centre is at present allocating sufficient funds to Odisha. Whenever any natural calamity has struck Odisha, not only the recent cyclone, the Centre has often extended helping hand.”

He added, “Other States are much ahead by implementing the Central schemes. When was the ratio of funding for Centre-sponsored schemes raised? It was as per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission.”

Taking a dig at the BJD Government in Odisha, the senior BJP leader burst, “No other State has raised concerns that their State’s matching share has been increased. Why is Odisha making it an issue? As it is failing in the developmental activities, we are definitely going to raise our fingers.”

On the contrary, Odisha Planning & Convergence, Commerce & Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera stated, “For years together our Chief Minister has been raising this demand (Special Category Status). Certainly there is its need. The Prime Minister should realize it. He himself has witnessed the trails of devastation wreaked by Cyclone FANI.”

He argued, “Our State is often hit by cyclone, flood and drought. Hence, the Government of India should adopt us a special category State. Years ago, there had been 100% grant on various schemes accorded by the Centre to Odisha. Then, the ratio went down to 90:10. 10% share will be borne by the State. Now, most of the schemes are at 60:40% share. Now it is to be judged about the burden being shouldered by the State Government.”

He further argued, “If we don’t provide the matching share, we can’t work on the implementation of the schemes. Thus, different development programmes of the State get hindered. Hence, we are bound to bear the matching share. The 90:10 ratio was okay. If this is re-implemented, it would be fine.”

“It is completely wrong to say that we are unable to spend the Central grant. Whatever funds have been allocated, we have added our matching share and in shape of other. All being spent as our State Government is having various budgetary provisions. It is simply an allegation and for the sake of giving mere statement,” the senior BJD leader and minister countered.

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Niranjan Patnaik, President, PCC, Odisha

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Prithviraj Harichandan, Spokesperson, BJP, Odisha

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Padmanabha Behera, Minister, Transport, Odisha