Naveen’s BJP tilt raises concerns over Odisha’s long-standing demands

Bhubaneswar: Odisha has been at loggerheads with the Centre over a host of issues like Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Paddy, rising oil prices, Polavaram dam and special category status for the state. However, the ruling BJD’s tilt towards the BJP has resulted in noticeable softening of its stance on these issue, which many believe, may not portend well for the State.

Recently, the Union Environment Ministry approved a two-year extension of the construction order for the Polavaram multi-purpose project in Andhra Pradesh, which Odisha has been opposing vehemently.   Amongst other demands, while paddy MSP was increased by a mere Rs 65 per quintal, demand for special category state status was denied outright by the Centre. Even after the hike in taxes on petrol and diesel, the Odisha government has not issued any strong statement against the Centre.

“The hike in commonly used items like petrol and diesel will definitely affect people. We will raise voice against those issues which are anti-people,” BJD MLA, Amar Prasad Satpathy said.

Meanwhile, Congress has targeted both the BJP and the BJD.

“Naveen babu has supported the Budget tabled by the Centre and on many other occasions, he has taken a soft stance against the BJP. Then why Odisha is not getting special category status,” Congress MLA Sura Routray said.

Responding to the allegations, former Finance Minister and BJD leader Shashi Bhushan Behera said, “BJD will not function as per the wish of Congress. They should first take care of their own party.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan too slammed the Congress party and said, “They should first save their own dignity which they have lost after elections. They don’t have any moral authority to raise questions on the Polavaram issue and the party should introspect.”

Political analyst Prasanna Mohanty said, “Naveen Patnaik’s silent attitude and calculated response towards the issues concerning Odisha is creating an atmosphere of suspicion. Discussions are on whether it is happening due to pressure or some invisible power.”