Pradeep Pattanayak

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have been locking horns since the central government announced to provide free rice to 3.25 crore of Odisha’s population under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

The BJD has objected centre's move to scrap the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. At a press conference, the BJD said Odisha’s 3.5 crore people were receiving 10 kilograms of rice since the introduction of the yojana which included five kilograms under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and five kilograms under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

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With the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana having been withdrawn, the people of Odisha will lose the five kilograms of rice, said BJD’s national spokesperson Sasmit Patra.

“The five kilograms of rice the poor people of Odisha were receiving has been stopped by the Central government. A six-member family of Basant Dharua of Tusura area in Bolangir district had been receiving 60 kilograms of rice a month. After the withdrawal of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the family will get 30 kilograms of rice. Can you imagine the hardship befallen on the family after taking away 30 kilograms from his quota? From now onwards, Dharua has to buy this rice in the money he would otherwise have to spend on medicine or something else,” said Patra.

In response to Patra’s allegation, BJP State general secretary Golak Mohapatra said finally Sasmit Patra has accepted the truth.

“There is a saying in Odia language that ‘Hanu Mala Belaku Sata Kahe (Monkey speaks the truth when end is near). It seems the end is near because Sasmit Patra accepted today that Prime Minister had been providing rice and stopped it now. You (Sasmit) have to be thanked for accepting the truth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving it and not you (the BJD),” said Mohapatra.

“The fact is that the price of one kilogram of rice was Rs 37.28. Of it, the State government’s contribution was Rs 2 and the rest Rs 35.28 was borne by the Central government. Now the entire cost will be borne by the Central government,” said Mohapatra adding that from now onwards the people of Odisha will receive only Modi’s rice. Instead of chalking out plans on how the rice would reach the beneficiaries, they (the BJD) are shedding crocodile tears,” Mohapatra observed.

(Reported by Harihar Chand)