Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

The Odisha government on Friday released allotted fund of Rs 3000 to the beneficiaries of Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY) to carry out repairs of the houses and Rs 5000 to those who have failed to get a house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

However, politics has heated up in the State as the funds were released today at a time when different political parties are bracing up for the upcoming Panchayat Polls.

As per reports, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik distributed the BPGY assistance to around 31 lakh beneficiaries, through virtual mode today. The estimated expenses under this scheme are pegged at Rs 1,444 crore from the government exchequer. The funds were directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

However, political heat has gained momentum as the Odisha government has kick-started the fund distribution programme while different political parties are prepping up for the upcoming Panchayat polls. 

The Opposition political units have alleged that the Ministers and MLAs of the ruling BJD are putting up posters of CM Patnaik at houses of the beneficiaries even as the model code of conduct may come into force anytime soon. Taking a dig at such a move, the Opposition has lashed out at the BJD government stating it as a political gimmick to allure voters. 

Several MLAs and party workers of BJD including State Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera, were found putting up posters with Patnaik's picture after distribution of the funds. 

BJP has sought answers from the BJD on 8 different questions and alleged massive irregularities in the distribution of funds to beneficiaries. 

"The ruling party has conducted the programme only to gain publicity but this won't help any beneficiary. The Centre had allotted funds for house construction under PMAY scheme, but instead of allotting houses, they are distributing funds for repairing. The government will ruin the government treasury funds," said Golak Mohapatra, BJP General Secretary.

Meanwhile, Congress Spokesperson Debashis Patnaik said, "This move of Odisha government is to influence the voters. It can be clearly stated as a 'bribe' to voters to purchase their votes. Why did the government release the funds while the Panchayat poll is inching closer?"

However, BJD MLA Parshuram Dhada said, "Opposition always opposes any work done by the government. The funds released to the beneficiaries are for house repairing of poor people in rural areas."