Himansu Shekhar Rout

A major controversy broke out over the distribution of bags with the logos of Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha and 5T to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) at PDS centres in Odisha. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strongly opposed the move of the state government. Surprisingly, some officials were spotted distributing the bags to the ration card holders.  

Politics heats up

As per reports, BJP activists opposed such a move by burning the bags at a PDS outlet under Balugaon NAC in Khordha district. Similar protests were staged at another PDS centre in Shovarampur in Balasore.

The BJP questioned why the state government is distributing such bags at PDS centres where the Central government’s free rice is distributed. What is the government’s intention behind promoting the Naveen brand at the PDS outlets, the party questioned.
Chittaranjan Panda, a conscious resident of Balugaon fumed saying, “The Central government provides free rice at PDS centres where the state government is distributing bags with their logos. The bags are being distributed to take credit for the Centre’s free rice. We strongly opposed it. A civil supplies official who came to a centre pleaded his helplessness.”    

Janani Majhi, a beneficiary of Khudpeja panchayat under Khariar block in Nuapada district said, “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is trying to give us an impression that he is giving rice by distributing bags. This is an attempt to grab our votes. The rice is being given by the Central government.”

Rohit Satanami, another beneficiary of Khariar observed, “Election is around the corner. The state government is trying to motivate people by giving them bags. It is trying to mislead people.”   

BJP warns of protests

BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan said, “The Centre will give rice and the state government will distribute bags with their logos of Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha and 5T at PDS points. The state government has resumed its bid to steal the credit. The BJP has decided to picket at each PDS point and will even lock up the points.” 
Senior Congress leader Bijay Patnaik said, “The bag distribution by the BJD government is meant to confuse people. Both the BJP and BJD are superficially opposing each other, but are in a secret understanding.”
BJD leader Pradeep Majhi lambasted the BJD and Congress saying, “Both the parties are unnecessarily trying to blame the state government. People know well whose rice it is."

 Whose rice is it?

As per official information, rice is freely distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana as part of the NFSA to 3.26 crore people in Odisha. 

However, the state government is supplying rice to only 10 lakh people, who are left out of the Central scheme. It was alleged that ahead of the elections, the state government had been trying to take credit for the free rice of the Central government.

Earlier, banners with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s photographs were hung at PDS centres, which had been strongly opposed by the BJP. Later, banners were removed. 

The BJP has accused the state government of hijacking various central schemes. To bust the myth, the BJP has been carrying out ‘Gaon Chalo Abhiyan’ to convince people about such alleged misrepresentation. 

There were reports that ‘Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana’ has been mentioned on the walls of PMAY housing units in Kandhamal. Responding to the development, BJP’s state unit Vice President Lekhashree Samantsighar urged people to blacken the portion of the writing.