Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With the 2024 General Elections approaching, the ruling BJD has recently given assurances of increasing allowances of ASHA, Anganwadi, MBK, CRP workers, artists, and old-age pensioners. 

A day before, 5T Chairman VK Pandian had announced in Raighar of Nabarangpur district that the salary of ASHA, Anganwadi workers, and others will be increased soon and the process is already underway.

However, as per political analysts, BJD has made this kind of announcement ahead of the 2024 General Elections anticipating a threat to its women vote bank.

Meanwhile, ASHA and Anganwadi workers have expressed their apprehensions over the promise.

As per several ASHA and Anganwadi workers, their long-standing demands in this regard have not been fulfilled despite getting many assurances in the past. Many of them are also of the opinion that considering the upcoming General Elections, it could only be a bluff by the State government.

“We are not getting any salary for our work. The State government is giving us a meagre incentive subject to the condition of no work no pay,” said Kanika Mallick, Vice-President of Odisha, Pachika Sangha.

“While sixty per cent of the incentive is provided by the Union government, the State government is only contributing only 40 per cent of it,” she added.

“Earlier, the Chief Secretary had given us a written statement that our salary will be increased within three to four months. However, it is quite unfortunate that the State government has not increased our salary even after more than one year. Ahead of the 2024 General Elections, they have given a false promise again to lure voters,” said Prithviraj Panda, General Secretary of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

As per reports, there are around 1,38,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in the State. Anganwadi workers are getting a monthly salary of Rs 7,500 of which the Union government has a share of Rs 4,500 and the State government is contributing only Rs 3,000. Some other States including Andhra Pradesh are providing a monthly salary of Rs 10,000 to Rs 11,000 including the amount provided by the Union government. Though the Anganwadi workers have been demanding an increase in their monthly salary to a minimum amount of Rs 18,000 for a long time, it has fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the Centre is providing a monthly allowance of Rs 2,000 to ASHA under the National Health Mission. However, the State government has a share of only Rs 1,000. Earlier, around one lakh ASHA in the State have hit the streets several times demanding a monthly salary of Rs 18,000. However, the government has not paid heed to their demands.

Moreover, the ‘pachikas’ appointed for cooking mid-day meals in schools are getting a meagre allowance of Rs 1,000 per month. They have been demanding to increase their monthly salary to Rs 15,000. While there are a total of around 53 lakh beneficiaries availing allowances under different schemes in the State, 32,34,000 among them are getting old age allowances under the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties slammed the ruling BJD by terming its assurances as a bluff before the 2024 General Election.

“As the ruling party is afraid of defeat in the elections, they are giving many false assurances through the 5T Chairman to woo voters. Without help from the Centre, they can’t increase the allowances,” said BJP leader, Mohan Majhi.

 “Instead of announcing the proposed plan, the government could have implemented it. It’s a conspiracy by the State government to lure voters ahead of the election. People of the State are now mentally prepared to vote against the government in 2024," said Congress leader Nishikant Mishra.

However, as per the ruling BJD, the assurances given by the party will be fulfilled.

“Whatever VK Pandian promises, he fulfils it. If he has assured an increase in allowances, it will certainly be fulfilled,” said BJD MP Sulata Deo.