Pradeep Pattanayak

Ahead of the general elections, Odisha politics is heating up over the alleged use of party posters and banners by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) at the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) centres, while providing free rice only to three per cent of the total beneficiaries. 

It has been alleged that the Naveen Patnaik government is lapping up appreciation by using its posters at the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) centres across the state whereas the central government is distributing the free rice under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

According to sources, the supply assistant at Talagaon under Jamda panchayat in Mayurbhanj district was distributing rice while hanging a banner of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He had to bring the poster down after a strong protest. A similar incident was also reported from Bahalda panchayat. 

Also Read: Free rice politics in Odisha: Gauging the mood of the State

“When we went to receive our quota of free rice, we found Naveen Patnaik’s banners at the distribution centre. As per our knowledge, the free rice we are receiving is being provided by the Modi government. So we staged a protest as to why Naveen Patnaik’s poster was being used,” said Dushmant Purty, a resident of Talagaon. 

When asked, the supply assistant of Bahalda panchayat, Chandra Sekhar Das said, “We are yet to receive the central government’s posters. As we had the state government’s posters, we use them.”

The BJP alleged the BJD-led Odisha government is distributing free rice only to three per cent of the total beneficiaries. By putting up its posters at the distribution centres, it is projecting itself as if it is distributing free rice to all the beneficiaries, they alleged. 

The genesis of the BJP’s opposition lies in the fact that the central government is providing free rice to 3,26,00,000 beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. The state government is distributing its free rice to the excluded 10 lakh beneficiaries. It means the state government is supplying free rice only to around three per cent of the total beneficiaries. 

“You (the BJD government) can’t put up your posters there (at PDS centres). If you do that, the BJP workers will protest. Where 3,26,00,000 beneficiaries are receiving free rice supplied by the central government, you are not putting up PM Modi’s posters nor distributing Modi bags. Then why you are distributing your bags to all beneficiaries while you are supplying free rice only to 5 lakh beneficiaries,” said state BJP Vice President, Golak Mohapatra. 

On the other hand, the BJD claimed they haven’t done anything wrong in putting up their banners at the PDS centres. 

“Naveen Patnaik has included over 60 lakh people in the scheme. The people will give a befitting reply. They will decide what posters they require,” said BJD MLA, Bhupinder Singh.