Dharmendra Pradhan targets Odisha govt over KALIA scheme

With 2019 polls barely four months away, political parties are fighting it out with below the belt accusations and mudslinging in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Criticising the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said that the State government is trying to avoid basic issues such as price, pension and farm loan waiver by announcing the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme.

He alleged that the Odisha government has no intention to help farmers. KALIA scheme is an attempt of the Naveen government to win votes. “They (ruling-BJD) had promised bonus for farmers and irrigation of 10 lakh hectare of land but nothing happened. Besides, the government’s mismanagement made farmers vulnerable to pest menace and several hectares of crops destroyed by Brown Plant Hoppers (chakada). The people, who have always cheated farmers, have now taken the help of KALIA (Lord Jagannath). The government lacks proper plan for the scheme, rather it’s just a new plan to woo voters,” the Union Minister said.

He also said Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana has so far reached 35 lakh women in Odisha and there is a target to extend the benefit to 10 lakh more beneficiaries in next three months in the State.

The Petroleum minister further alleged that the Odisha government is jealous of Central schemes and said: “The State government seems to have adopted a policy that neither will they do good for people nor will they let others do.”

Responding to Pradhan’s allegations, State Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera said KALIA scheme will help actual farmers, including marginal and sharecroppers; the scheme will also help wipe out the regular demands of loan waiver as farmers can get regular assistance.

Odisha Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera (File Pic)

“Opposition parties are indulged in spreading false rumours related to the KALIA scheme out of fear,” said Behera.

On the other hand, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik alleged that Odisha CM is trying to fool farmers through the KALIA scheme as the general elections are barely four months away.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik

“In what ways can KALIA scheme be comparable with the bonus scheme that we have promised? Naveen babu has himself told that loan waiver will lead to a massive crunch in the State economy. So, how many times has he waived off loan of farmers in his 19-years of rule?… The scheme is not a new one, the State government is just fooling farmers again as the general elections are round the corner,” said Patnaik.