Hunger politics intensifies over NSSO report in Odisha
Bhubaneswar: Politics on hunger hotted up in Odisha over NSSO's report on food availability in Indian household with Union Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Jena and state Food Supplies minister Pratap Keshari Deb locking horns on the issue.
Terming the report that about 4 per cent of Odisha's rural families do not get a square meal everyday during a particular time in a year as "not accurate", Deb suspected Union Minister Jena's "hand behind the NSSO's finding."
"NSSO's report is nothing but purely made on political consideration keeping any eye on the next elections. NSSO is functioning under Jena's ministry," Deb alleged directly pointing fingers at the Union Minister.
Deb also claimed that a similar report was made prior to elections in Gujarat which, it claimed also housed hungry people. The report was then prepared by the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.
"Then, they had named five states which did not mention names of Odisha or West Bengal," Deb pointed out alleging that NSSO's report was influenced by Jena.
Countering Deb's allegation, Jena said "Yes NSSO comes under my ministry. But, I don't interfere in preparation of report", adding he feels more people live under hunger in Odisha than the figure given in NSSO report.
Of the 80 lakh families in Odisha, about 60 lakh families are poor, Jena told reporters.
"I feel pity about the poor chap," Jena said referring to Deb, who is son of Sarat Deb, a former colleague of Jena in the Janata Dal.
Both Deb's father and Jena were prominent non-Congress leaders of Odisha in 80s and worked under leadership of Biju Patnaik.
"NSSO's report is based on a a model survey though it gives indication on a particular subject. The report says people in rural Odisha face food scarcity during January and February. As these two months are harvesting season, people have sufficient foodgrain for consumption," Deb had told the assembly yesterday while participating in a debate.
Justifying his argument, the minister quoted Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia as saying, "NSSO report does not reveal what exactly is happening."