Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday lashed out at the Odisha government alleging non-utilisation of District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds towards the development of the areas and people affected by mining related operations.

Addressing a huge gathering at Bolangir, Modi said that Odisha has over Rs 4000 crore in its DMF funds but it has so far remained unutilised. "What has happened to the Odisha government? When will it wake up from deep slumber? I urge the State government to use the funds for the benefit of people without keeping it for elections," he said.

BJP is committed to the development of Odisha but the State government's failure in utilisation of the fund has added to the problems of people, alleged Modi, adding, "Money is there, people need it and it is their right, but the government is sleeping."

Modi also launched a scathing attack on the Congress accusing the oldest party of callousness and apathy towards protecting, preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage and resources of India (when the party was in power).

"There was a time when idols were stolen from temples. We are now trying to bring back all those idols of historical significance. Several idols have already been brought back to India in the last four years. However, the previous governments (Congress-led UPA) never took any step for the same," said Modi.

Responding to Modi's allegation, Odisha SC & ST Development Minister Ramesh Majhi said the Central fund to the State has been slashed since 2013-14, scholarship of SC/ST students have been stopped for the last two years; the State government is now using its own fund. "There is no truth in Modi's allegation," the minister said on non-utilisation of DMF funds allegation.

Meanwhile, Odisha Congress said that the PM disappointed again by not speaking on the issues concerning the people of Odisha. The party also alleged that the soft stance of Modi towards Odisha government proved that the BJP and the BJD share secret ties.

Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik took to Twitter and wrote: "Thank you Prof. Modi for your history lessons, but we Odias are very well aware of our history & culture. We wanted you to speak on, agri distress, unemployment, Rafale scam, ignoring Western Odisha, asking your CBI to protect CM in chit fund scam... Alas! Disappointed again."

On the other hand, Bolangir MLA Narasingha Mishra said that PM Modi didn't announce any special package for the district. "Modi's speech hints at the fear that has engulfed the BJP following its defeat in the three states and that's why, today, nobody could understand what he said. We had put forth several demands for Bolangir but no special package was announced for us," said Mishra.

Meanwhile, political experts believe that the recent defeat of the BJP in assembly elections has forced the party to shun negative politics. "With the general elections barely three months away, it seems, the BJP is now trying to involve more in highlighting its achievements instead of 'only' attacking opposition parties. Negative politics might hamper a party's prospects and the BJP seems to have realised that," said senior journalist," Prasanna Mohanty.

Earlier today, PM Modi inaugurated and dedicated a slew of developmental projects worth over Rs 1545 crore to the people of Odisha. Modi’s trip to Bolangir was his third visit to Odisha in less than 30 days.