BJD to protest Centre’s move to ‘dump’ wheat on Odisha on May 14

Bhubaneswar: Strongly opposing the the Centre’s move to ‘dump’ wheat on a rice-consuming State like Odisha, Biju Krushak Janata Dal, the farmers’ wing of ruling BJD on Friday decided to stage demonstration across the State on May 14.

Accusing the Centre of allocating large amount of wheat against its demand for more rice under the Food Security Act, the party said it would submit a memorandum in this regard to the President of India through district collectors.

“We will stage demonstrations at all district headquarters, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. We will also send a memorandum to the President of India in this regard demanding his intervention in the matter,” said Sushant Singh, convenor, BJD farmers’ cell.

“We will not tolerate the Centre’s partial treatment towards Odisha,” Singh stated.

Official sources said rice is the staple food for the State’s tribals, who constitute about 24% of the state’s population. Around 85 per cent of state’s rural population prefers rice to wheat.

The BJP, however, smelt a rat in the decision of the ruling party to raise its voice on the issue.

“This is only a tactic of the State government to save its face from the allegations leveled against it. This face saving measure will not work for the party as the people of Odisha have now realised what the government is doing for them in the name of development,” BJP’s Biswa Bhusan Harichandan said.

The Congress party too joined the chorus against the ruling party’s move.

“The ruling party has planned this move to divert the attention of the public from the chit fund scam. The Union Food Minister has assured the State government to look into the matter. Therefore, it is clear that the ruling party is trying to divert attention after being hemmed in from all sides,” Congress legislator Chrianjibi Biswal said.

On May 3, the ruling party MLAs had submitted a memorandum to the President of India through Governor S C Jamir at Raj Bhavan here. BJD MPs also met Union Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan over the issue in New Delhi and demanded allocation of more rice for Odisha.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had impressed on Prime Minister Narendra Modi the need for greater allocation of rice to the state when he met him recently. Earlier, he had written to Union Food minister Ramvilas Paswan on the matter.