Himansu Shekhar Rout

Leaders of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have reportedly started distributing Rs 1000 cash incentives to beneficiaries of the NFSA in Odisha.

In the last 10 days, the Odisha government has announced financial incentives under 13 schemes and has also hiked pension allowances. It seems as if the government has loosened the purse strings ahead of the General Elections to woo voters.

Such a bid by the government to empty the coffers may get the BJD political dividends in the elections, but many have questioned the impact it will have on fiscal management later.

Opposition parties have lashed out at the government over the issue, terming such schemes as bribe to voters.  

As per reports, BJD leaders distributed Rs 1000 cash to NFSA beneficiaries at many places. About 95 lakh people in the state will get this assistance for which Rs 1,237 crore will be spent from the state exchequer. 

SHG members under Mission Shakti will also avail of Rs 1000 for uniforms, college students will get scholarships, unemployed youths will be provided interest-free loans of Rs 1 lakh, and weavers, Krushak Sathis, and cooks will get a hike in their monthly allowances. Besides, the Mamata Yojana assistance was hiked from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. 

Taking a dig at the government for such sops, BJP leader Mohan Majhi said, "The BJD’s vote share has come down by 15 per cent, for which the party is heading for a disaster. They are offering voters bribe in the form of jute bags and Rs 1000 cash. What they are saying is take the bribe and vote for the BJD.”   

Terming such sops as an electoral gimmick, veteran Congress leader Panchanan Kanungo said, “From where such whopping amounts would come? Either the government will raise the money through loans or stop the sops after two or three months. Earlier, the BJD government was distributing umbrellas and shoes. After the election, such sops will be stopped.”  

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However, BJD leader Nrushingha Sahu said, "People are now hit by the price spiral. Such assistance will alleviate their miseries. The opposition will criticize whatever is done by the government for the welfare of the people. People will draw benefits from such assistance.”

As for the cash incentives, financial analyst Rajib Sahoo said, "People should be empowered and made self-sufficient. With that money, schemes meant for their skilling should be implemented."

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