Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With several members of different Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Odisha alleging that the administration is indulging in corruption and favouritism while providing business opportunities and loans, the ruling BJD seems to be drifting away from the huge number of women voters in Odisha.

While the BJD seems to be desperate to keep the unity among the Self Help Groups intact by directing the party MLAs and leaders to give special attention, Opposition parties have slammed the ruling party over the allegations.

Once, members of Self Help Groups were the trump card for BJD in the election. However recently, several members of different SHGs have expressed their resentment over the functioning of the BJD alleging that the ruling party is resorting to favouritism and indulging in corruption in providing business opportunities and credit only to its stern supporters. They have further alleged that the money meant to be provided to the Self Help Groups for starting different business initiatives is getting diverted to other projects.

Irked over the development, several SHG groups and party members at the Gram Panchayat level have also decided to part ways with the ruling party. Being concerned over it, BJD has recently prepared a special strategy to mend ways. Meanwhile, Opposition parties slammed BJD by saying that SHG members are fed up with the ruling party due to massive corruption in providing loans to them.

“There has been a rift between SHG women in the State. They have now understood that they are being exploited. BJD is providing loans and other facilities to the stern supporters of the party only. SHG members have understood everything and they will give their reply at the right time,” said BJP leader, Prakash Behera.

“Presidents of some Self Help Groups are involved in corruption. They are embezzling the bulk amount and depriving other members of the benefits. Hence, several members do not prefer the BJD anymore,” said Congress MLA, Santosh Singh Saluja.

However, the BJD refuted all the allegations.

“Around 80 lakh women-Mission Shakti force is with the BJD. Women in Odisha are so happy with BJD. The Opposition parties have no issues to highlight,” said BJD leader Lenin Mohanty.

BJD might have brushed aside all the allegations, however, the ground reality is something different.

Members of Radhamadhaba Self Help Group at Mirhasanpur under Bhandaripokhari block in Bhadrak district have brought allegations that they were neither given the opportunities to run a mandi for paddy procurement nor were allowed to supply cooked food to a school.

“Despite visiting our block and requesting the higher authorities several times, we were not given permission either to run a mandi or supply cooked food to a school. Rather, the opportunities were given to the supporters of BJD,” said Sabita Barala, President of Radhamadhaba Self Help Group.

Members of Shri Mahalaxmi Self Help Group in Jeypore have alleged that they are not provided with land to start their project.

“Following a lot of difficulties, we were provided a project after five years. However, the block administration is not cooperating with us by allotting a piece of land to start the project,” rued Bhagyalaxmi Acharya, President of Shri Mahalaxmi Self Help Group.

The State government had announced to provide businesses worth Rs 50,000 crore to different SHGs in different phases. However, alleged favouritism and corruption in the administration have emerged as major roadblocks.