Pradeep Pattanayak

The state units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress on Tuesday took a swipe at the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for doling out scheme after scheme ahead of the 2024 general elections. 

In the last four days, the BJD-led government announced five schemes. On February 10, it increased the pension under the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) and the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) by Rs 500. On February 11, a 50 percent bonus for Kendu leaf pluckers was announced. Then on February 12, it announced one-time livelihood assistance of Rs 1000 to the PDS families.

On February 13, the government announced the Nua -O Scholarships of Rs 9,000 for male students and Rs 10,000 for girl students annually. It also announced the creation of a corpus of Rs 300 crores and by August month, the Nua-O Magic Smart Card will be given to all eligible students who will get additional benefits like bus/train travel concessions, free wifi, access to online courses, skill development, coaching programs, etc. 

“These announcements are nothing but bribing voters. But the Odisha people will reject them. If Naveen Babu thinks he would wipe out the problems of poverty and migration from Odisha, he is wrong. With yesterday’s cabinet decision, the government has betrayed the people of Odisha,” said BJP spokesperson, Anil Biswal. 

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Congress media cell chairman, Biswaranjan Mohanty said, “The government is number one in announcing new schemes. But the government should clarify whether the announcements are poll jumlas or not.”

Taking his government’s side, BJD MLA Prashant Muduli said, “The Chief Minister has announced several yojanas for the development of common people. If they are being viewed as something else, we have nothing to say.”

But the question that arises here is what has prompted the BJD-led dispensation to announce such schemes back to back. Is it its strategy to counter the anti-incumbency wave on the ground level? 

It is viewed so because, according to the survey of Times Now, PM Modi’s popularity is increasing whereas the popularity of Naveen Patnaik is on the wane. The survey also claims that 43 percent of Odisha’s people are not satisfied with Naveen Patnaik’s rule and 31 percent are partially satisfied. 

Several surveys by national organisations show that the BJP may give the BJD a tough contest in the coming general elections. 

According to Rajeev Sahu, an economist, the government should come up with long-term plans to improve the living conditions of the people. 

“The government is trying to help the poor people in different ways which would also help it win elections. But it should focus on long-term plans to bring a change in the people’s living conditions,” Sahu added.

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