Following CAG rap, questions raised about Biju Yuva Vahini programme

Bhubaneswar: After the State government drew flak from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for refusing to cooperate in audit of its recently-launched Biju Yuva Vahini (BYV) programme, questions have been raised over the actual motive behind its implementation.

According to an OTV investigation report, several volunteers and youth activists engaged in the programme are anti-socials and have criminal records. It remains a question under what circumstances they have been appointed when police officials are also present as members of the board that recruits them.

Speculation is rife that the programme is functioning as a platform to engage BJD workers and not aimed at providing social service.

For instance, consider the case of Bhabagrahi Samantaray, the BYV president of Garadapur panchayat in Kendrapara.

As per police report, Bhabagrahi is a notorious bike lifter and over 30 criminal cases are pending against him at various police stations in the State. Even though the SP himself was part of the recruitment board, it is surprising as to why he did not oppose his selection for the post of BYV president. Buzz is that the SP might have yielded to political pressure.

Not only Bhabagrahi, but several other cases in other parts of the State have now raised questions over the integrity of the BYV volunteers who have been roped in to create door-to-door awareness on various government welfare schemes.

“The funds for the programme are meant to create youth ‘goonda’ teams which would rule the roost on behalf of the ruling party,” said Ashok Nanda, social activist.

At many places, it has been witnessed that BYV activists are openly coming out in support of local BJD MLAs.

Opposition parties have alleged politicisation of the programme by ruling-BJD ahead of the upcoming general polls.

“The government is diverting funds from State exchequer for BJD-backed programmes so that its workers, who work like agents for the upcoming elections, get employed,” said Niranjan Nayak, general secretary, Youth Congress.

The BJP is also on a warpath against the State government and is likely to move the court over the matter.

Amid allegations of irregularities in the tender and fund allocation for the project, earlier last week, the CAG directed the government to stop spending on the programme. The move came after the State Sports and Youth Services Department refused to cooperate in the audit of the programme citing preparations for the upcoming Hockey World Cup.