Pradeep Pattanayak

The Opposition parties in Odisha on Thursday hit out at the ruling BJD dispensation over the budget which was presented in the State Assembly on Wednesday, terming it as ‘Vote Bank Budget’. 

In budget for 2022-23 financial year, the government has given importance to schemes and yojanas that are aimed at providing direct benefit to beneficiaries. For example, the allocation in KALIA yojana has been increased from last year’s Rs 1,800 crore to Rs1,874 crore this year.  Similarly, Rs1,864 crore has been provided under the Bijua Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. A provision of Rs2,000 crore has been made for several programmes under Mission Shakti. Similarly, an allocation of Rs 5,906 crore has been made for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana.  

While the Opposition parties alleged that the allocations have been made with an intention to create vote bank and set the government image right, the BJD argued that maximum allocations have been made to solve people’s problems. 

Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra was caustic in his criticism of the government. “The budget has been fashioned in such way that it will see the ruling party through the elections. It is nothing but betraying the farmers. In the coming days, it will spell doom for the BJD,” Mishra said. 

Seconding Mishra, Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Majhi said KALIA yojana is not enough to raise the financial condition of the farmers. “KALIA yojana is more for securing the vote bank,” said Majhi. 

BJD MLA Rajkishore Das termed the Oppositions’ allegation as baseless, saying the government is trying its best to solve people’s problems. “Once their problems are solved, they would automatically vote in favour of our party. There is no need to create vote banks,” 

The government presented the interim budget of Rs2,00,000 crore for the financial year 2022-23 with a provision of Rs1,00,000 crore for programme expenditure, a straight increase of 33 percent as compared to the provision made in 2021-22. 

Since industries, start-ups and infrastructure development haven’t been given their due share of importance, economists opined that the government has given importance to yojanas through which direct benefit can be provided to beneficiaries. 

“Out of the Rs2,00,000 crore budget, provision for programme expenditure has beenRs1,00,000 crore. It indicates that the government is making a balance between politics and economics,” said economist Rajib Sahu. 

Senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty said the government presented a populist budget while neglecting fields that could have ensured the State’s continues progress.