Pradeep Pattanayak

It seems there is no let up in the politics over free rice distribution as the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is going to launch a massive protest on February 14, 15 and 16. While addressing a press conference in Bhubaneswar on Monday, BJD MLA Arun Sahoo informed about the ruling party's decision. 

The lawmaker said they will raise issues like reduction in allocation of funds by Rs 20,000 crore in the annual budget for the year 2023-24, reduction in procurement of rice from 18 lakh MT to 4 lakh MT and discontinuance of 5 kg rice under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). On February 14, BJD will stage a demonstration at Raj Bhawan and send a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Governor. 

“They (Central government) have cut funds by Rs 20,000 crore in the budget, reduced the rice procurement and discontinued 5 kg rice per eligible family the State had been receiving from the Centre. As a result, our paddy procurement will largely be affected. Protesting this, we will stage a demonstration in front of Raj Bhawan and submit our memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Governor,” said Sahoo. 

The BJD will also stage dharna at Panchayat offices across the State on February 15. On February 16, the conch party will stage demonstrations at block offices and submit memorandum to the Prime Minister through the district Collectors. 

In its response, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed BJD's decision a subterfuge to distract people’s attention from the deteriorating law and order situation in the State. 

Launching a broadside against the BJD-led government at a presser, BJP State General Secretary Golak Mohapatra said, “The BJD is that party which embezzled 10 kg of rice from each of the 36 lakh BPL families during the period starting from 2009 to the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). While the Central government was providing 35 kg a family, it was distributing 25 kgs.”

“We demand that the BJD government, instead of making any farce, give 5 kg rice to the people from its own pocket. It had won the last two elections using the rice to its advantage. It seems that they (BJD) are well aware of the fact that people are no longer in dark. People are now aware that the rice is PM Narendra Modi’s rice. Because of this, they (BJD) have devised a new plan. But the people of Odisha won’t accept it,” said Mohapatra.


(Reported by Harihar Chand, OTV)