BJD readies for Swabhiman Samabesh
New Delhi: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is leaving no stone unturned to press for Special Category Status (SCS) for Odisha. While as many as 15,000 party workers are scheduled to arrive in the national capital to join with an estimated equal number of party supporters from here and express their solidarity for the State’s rightful place in the ‘Swabhiman Samabesh’ on Wednesday, senior party leaders today launched a scathing attack on the Centre for neglecting Odisha and not considering it for SCS.
“The biggest irony is that several states such as Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh which today enjoy SCS have much higher per capita income. Some of them have twice the national average per capita income and thrice the per capita income of Odisha. So it is irony that these States get SCS and Odisha does not get,” rued senior BJD leader and Kendrapada MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda in a press conference.
“This is not something we are begging for, we are asserting our rights under the Constitution,” Panda said.
Reiterating his demand for the SCS tag for Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stated, “We don't get (in return) what we give to Centre as huge revenue from Railways and revenue from minerals……what we get in Railway budget this year is a paltry amount in comparison to the revenue from Odisha”.
Odisha's hopes for increased allocation of funds fell far behind its expectations once again this year with the Centre sanctioning about Rs 869 crore for rail projects in the State for the year 2013-14 against its demand of Rs 3,050 crore.
“In the Railways we have about 30% lower track density than the national average. This despite the fact the Railways makes enormous profits from its operations in Odisha. Last year it made gross profit of Rs 14,000 cr and invested less than a thousand crores in its budget for Odisha this year,” stated the parliamentarian.
Other senior party leaders present on the occasion too lambasted the Centre for its ‘step-motherly’ attitude towards the State. They alleged, the biggest reason for having SCS was that over the past 20 years the pattern of central funding for states has changed dramatically.
“Theoretically we are allotted a certain sum but unless the State is able to give the matching funds and these adds up to tens of thousands of crores, we are not able to avail or utilise those funds. This does not matter for a State having much larger budget than Odisha,” said a senior BJD member.
“It is very troubling that some decisions have been taken recently on political considerations to give financial assistance to certain States where as those like us which are deserving and which constitutionally narrate these benefits are not being given,” added he.
Senior BJD leaders who had graced the press meet were MP Khalikesh Singhdeo, ministers including Kalpataru Das, Debi Prasad Mishra, Bijayshree Routray, government deputy chief whip Sanjay Dasburma and government chief whip in Odisha Legislative Assembly Prabhat Tripathy.