Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With around a year left for the General Elections, Odisha government has come up with a new scheme – Mukhya Mantri Janajati Jeebika Mission for 2023 -2026 with an outlay of Rs 500 crore. However, Opposition parties slammed the ruling party alleging that the scheme is just to woo tribal voters.

The scheme has been approved by the State Cabinet and a sum of Rs 120 crore has been earmarked for the scheme for 2023-24 financial year. Under the scheme around 14.5 lakh tribal families will be provided timely access to quality inputs, infrastructure support incidental to livelihood, introduction of better production practices, training and capacity building support. 

“The scheme will enable the tribal households to venture into well planned farm-based and off-farm livelihood activities at the household level for enhancing their income and quality of life on a sustained basis. Tribal farmers will be provided with critical inputs such as quality seeds, planting materials and organic plant protection materials under the scheme,” said Odisha SC/ST development secretary, Roopa Roshan Sahu.

As per many political experts, tribal votes play a crucial role as 22 per cent of the State’s total population are tribals. Moreover, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh Parliamentary constituencies and 33 Assembly seats in the State are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Hence, BJP has played the tribal card by announcing the scheme, said experts.

Some experts are also of the opinion that BJD is scared following the election of tribal leader Droupadi Murmu as the President of India. The party leaders have an underlying fear that the development may drive the tribals to vote for the BJP. Hence, by announcing the scheme, BJD has prepared a game plan to counter BJP’s move, opined experts.
Earlier in 2019, the BJD also formed Special Development Councils. Some BJD leaders have also been made Special Development Council (SDC) Chairpersons in various districts. The advisor of Special Development Council, Pradeep Majhi is visiting various districts in regular intervals to seek support of the tribals.

“BJD is really scared after the appointment of Droupadi Murmu as the President of India. Hence, they are trying to divert the attention of the tribals by announcing the scheme,” said Leader of the Opposition, Jayanarayan Mishra.

“BJD wants to get votes from the tribals by luring them with the scheme. However, it will not materialize,” said senior Congress leader, Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

Meanwhile, BJD slammed the Opposition parties for speaking against development schemes.

“Mukhya Mantri Janajati Jeebika Mission will go a long way in empowering tribals and giving them sustained livelihood and earning opportunities. Opposition parties critising the scheme for narrow political motive is not at all acceptable,” said BJD leader Pradeep Majhi.