Himansu Shekhar Rout

Ahead of the upcoming elections, the Odisha government is allegedly giving one lollipop after another. A day after hiking Rs 500 under the Madhu Babu Pension scheme, the government announced a 50 per cent bonus for kendu leaf pluckers, besides some other incentives on Sunday. 

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced this while addressing a gathering of kendu leaf pluckers of Odisha Kendupatra Karmachari Sangh at Rairakhole in Sambalpur through a video conference. 

As per the announcement, leaf pluckers will be given a 50 per cent bonus while the kendu leaf binders and seasonal workers will get a 10% incentive. Besides, the seasonal workers will be provided work for an extra one month during the season. 

Apart from that, the Chief Minister announced to increase the price of a bundle of kendu leaves from Rs 1.40 to Rs 1.60. 
As per the announcement, the TA and cycle allowance of the leaf pluckers was increased to 50% while the maximum age of the leaf pluckers to receive the social security benefits was raised from 60 to 62. 

Kendu leaf workers will also get an assistance of Rs 25,000 for the marriage of their daughters.

However, the BJP has lambasted the state government for making such announcements before the elections. 

BJP leader Pradip Purohit said that the Chief Minister had assured in the Assembly and outside the House to give a 100 percent bonus to the kendu leaf pluckers. "In 2022, the state government had got a net profit of Rs 480 crore from kendu leaf sale and in the current year, it will get Rs 600 crore profit. Despite all this, why the Chief Minister is not giving a 100 per cent bonus to them,"  he asked.