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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Panicked over the misguided protests, Odisha government was today seen giving a carte blanche to the illegal immigrants residing in the State to dwell so without fear.

In a far reaching decision, during the enumeration exercise for the National Population Register (NPR) in Odisha, enumerators in the State will drop the sub section of column 13 in the NPR format, revealed BJD Parliamentary leader Pinaki Mishra post a meeting of BJD MPs chaired by CM Naveen Patnaik.

The sub-section of column 13 in the NPR seeks the details regarding the place of birth of father/mother, if they are not enumerated in the household.

Significantly, the NPR 2011 had also sought similar details then. And data had been enumerated under the relevant section in Odisha in 2011. Therefore, dropping of the section altogether in NPR 2021 in Odisha, despite Centre stating that the requirement under the relevant field is optional, shows how panicked is the Naveen-led BJD government over the protests on NPR by some misguided groups elsewhere in the country.

It needs mentioning here that CM Naveen Patnaik earlier had junked the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Odisha.

BJD parliamentary leader Pinaki Mishra speaking to the media said, "BJD's stand on CAA is unambiguous. CAA confers citizenship to persecuted citizens from other countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh). Odisha will not implement NRC and will drop the relevant field during NPR remuneration in the State."

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the BJD Parliamentary Party at Naveen Niwas. The meeting deliberated upon and chalked out a strategy to be adopted by the party in the coming Budget Session of Parliament.

Briefing media persons, BJD Parliamentary leader Pinaki Mishra said BJD will raise the issue of conducting OBC census along with general census 2021 in both houses of Parliament. The worthy mention here is Naveen-led BJD government didn't seek an insertion in the column 13 during census 2011.

Another big revelation made by Puri MP Pinaki Mishra is the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) will monitor bi-monthly the performance of BJD MPs. "Even though the CMO is not a political office, still it will keep an independent track of the Party MP's performance in both houses of parliament. The CMO has designed a special excel sheet format to estimate party MP's performance," he informed.

Political observers read this as CMO's complete takeover of the functions that are purely matters of a political party.

As per the decision of CM-chaired meet today, BJD will seek imposition of clean energy cess on mining. Mishra said since Odisha bears the brunt of mining, the State needs compensation from such targeted cess.

The mention here is currently a cess is levied on coal (both indigenous and import). Centre levies a cess of Rs 400/tonne. In fact, the cess is being mobilised now under the head GST Compensation Cess. Earlier, the coal cess was known as 'clean energy cess', which was introduced in 2010-11. The centre has mobilised Rs 84,000 crore under the GST compensation cess.

The party will also raise other routine issues like expediting pending railways projects, release of GST compensation instalments to Odisha at the earliest and an expeditious solution to inter-state river disputes (Mahanadi and Polavaram).

On Legislative Council for Odisha, when neighbour Andhra Pradesh has only yesterday abolished Legislative Council, Mishra said demand of upper house in Odisha is an all party consensus. And he added that we hope the issue will crop up during Centre's bill in Parliament over AP's resolution on abolition of legislative council.

The bottom line: While BJD has decided to drop an innocuous sub-section in NPR to assuage its minority vote bank, the party's OBC census card is aimed at vote consolidation. Above all, CMO has emerged as BJD's apex political body.

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