BJD weakens Odisha’s case for special category status: Centre

Bhubaneswar: The Centre on Thursday accusing the ruling BJD in Odisha of weakening the state's case for getting special category status by giving wrong data on poverty.
"Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik diluted Odisha's case for special category state status by providing wrong and contradictory data on the number of poor and painting a robust picture of the state's economy," Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena told reporters here.
The special category status issue was being raised to divert people's attention from the ponzi scheme scam in the state, he claimed and alleged that ministers and BJD leaders were involved in the racket.
Slamming the BJD government for attacking Centre for not granting the special category tag, the Congress leader said if the chief minister is sincere about the demand he should provide a correct picture on the number of poor in the state instead of claiming substantial decline in poverty.
Patnaik should also apologise to the people for giving wrong statistics about the number of poor and admit before the Centre that his government had failed to bring down poverty level, Jena, who was flanked by Congress leader Narsingh Mishra, said.
Both Jena and Mishra accused BJD of indulging in cheap politics on the issue after Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in a letter to Patnaik informed that Odisha did not qualify for the special category status as per the existing criteria. .
Jena and Mishra said the BJD government should wait for the change in criteria for grant of special state status and the chief minister should call an all-party meeting to evolve strategy for fulfilment of the demand if he is sincere.
Asserting that Congress too wanted special category status for Odisha, Jena said following the announcement by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram a committee has been formed to examine change of criteria for the grant of such status.
"Let the specially constituted committee give its report …We hope Odisha will benefit from change of criteria for grant of special category state status," he said.
The National Development Council would take the final decision on granting special category status for Odisha and other states after the submission of the report, Jena said and asked BJD leaders to refrain from indulging in cheap politics.