Advance transfer of KALIA benefits only poll gimmick: Opposition

While BJD believes that KALIA scheme will help the party sail through the 2019 elections, both the Congress and the BJP claim people have already accepted them as an alternative to the BJD

Bhubaneswar: It is said that ‘no matter what, not a single opportunity should be missed to woo voters…’ And it seems, all the three major political parties in Odisha- BJD, BJP and Congress- are hell-bent leaving no stone unturned to get an edge over the other. With the election code of conduct soon to be imposed, Odisha government today ‘intentionally’ preponed the second tranche disbursal of money under the KALIA scheme, inviting strong criticism from the Opposition.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had earlier announced that the small and marginal farmers will get the second tranche of the benefits on Akshaya Tritiya (May 7). However, much ahead of the schedule, Patnaik today announced that the beneficiaries will get the assistance on Utkal Diwas (April 1).

While Congress has alleged that the State government is bribing voters in the name of assistance under KALIA scheme, a confident BJP said that people of Odisha will stand by the party and help it form the government in 2019.

Claiming that the eleventh hour election stunt (KALIA scheme) can’t help the BJD win the trust of farmers who have already suffered a lot under the 19 years of BJD rule, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said,  “Once the model code of conduct comes into effect, it will be clear who will stand where. It’s quite early to speak on the issue.”

“KALIA scheme has been launched only to bribe people. They (BJD) believe in cash-for-votes, but money can’t always buy votes,” said senior Congress leader, Suresh Kumar Routray.

However, the ruling-BJD refuted the bribe-allegations and hit back at both the BJP and the Congress stating that the BJD government is fulfilling the demands of lakhs of farmers in the State.

“It’s an ongoing process, there’s nothing like bribing people. Farmers have been demanding assistance and the government is just doing the same. Utkal Diwas carries a lot of importance and that’s the only reason that the government decided to disburse the assistance on that particular day,” said BJD MLA, Debasis Nayak.