Biju, JB, Naveen ruled for 35 yrs, still Odisha poor: Srikant

Bhubaneswar: Barely two days after Union Minister Shashi Tharoor praised Naveen Patnaik for good governance in Odisha, another Union Minister Srikant Jena has held the Chief Minister responsible for the backwardness and poverty of the state.

Of the 67 years of Independence, Odisha's reign was in the control of only two families for 35 years and still continuing. "You and your late father Biju Patnaik had been Chief Minister of Odisha for 21 years. You are still continuing in the post," Jena said in a letter to Patnaik asking who was responsible for the backwardness and poverty of the state.

Senior Congress leader J B Patnaik also ruled the state for 14 years. Together, the Patnaiks (JB, Biju & Naveen) have ruled the state for 35 years while 12 other chief ministers of the state could not complete their full 5-year term, Jena pointed out.

Odisha is poorest despite having all resources, Jena said adding he was not sure how long it required for the CM of Odisha to bring change.

"As you have been blaming the Centre for all wrongs in the state, can you say what you have done for the state as a Union Minister? Blaming the Centre could be a ploy of yours," Jena wrote in the letter.

The Union Minister of Fertiliser and Chemicals said, "The committee has exposed the poverty and backwardness of the state."

Blaming the entire political class including Naveen and his father, Jena said only 50 to 60 families have taken benefits of Odisha's development while the people in village still find it hard to meet their essential needs. "You might have information about the fortunate Odias who have owned palaces in London and New York," Jena said in the letter to Patnaik.

Citing an instance, the Union Minister said of the 84 lakh families in Odisha, 70 lakh families come under the BPL category. This was the real picture of the state, he said.

Jena urged the Chief Minister to bring all mines under the private ownership to the state's control and implement Orissa Prohibition Act, 1956.

Rejecting Jena's allegations, the state government claimed that it had made impressive achievements in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction. While it had projected 8.23 per cent growth rate during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12), it envisages an average annual growth rate of 9 per cent in 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).