Bhubaneswar: Union planning minister Rajeev Shukla’s written reply in Rajya Sabha, on why Odisha cannot be granted special category status as per the present criteria, has triggered a political storm in the state.
The Biju Janata Dal, which recently held a political rally in Delhi to demand special category status for Odisha, wasted no time to berate the Centre for ignoring the legitimate demands of the state. As soon as the Assembly proceedings began on Friday, BJD MLAs waved banners and placards inside the House demanding special status for Odisha.
While disruptions of proceedings are not alien to Odisha Assembly, this was a rare occasion when MLAs belonging to the ruling party created ruckus inside the House which prompted the Speaker to adjourn the House till 12.30 pm and then for the entire day.
BJD MLAs immediately rushed to Raj Bhavan to submit a memorandum to Governor Dr S.C. Jamir for granting special category status to Odisha. The youth and student wings of the BJD also staged street demonstrations and burnt effigies of the union planning minister and the PM.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik termed Rajiv Shukla’s written reply as “unfortunate” and stated that the rightful struggle of the state would continue till the demand would be met.
"It is most unfortunate that Union Minister Mr Rajiv Shukla denied Odisha's rightful demand of special category status for Odisha. We will continue our rightful struggle for the demand of special category status for the state," Patnaik told reporters
Describing the Congress as the enemy of Odisha, panchayati raj minister Kalpataru Das said that the BJD would intensify its struggle for the just demands of the state.
Leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress, however, defended the UPA government and claimed that it was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who had been finding ways to accord SCS to Odisha and other backward states.
"What these people were doing when NDA government rejected Odisha's demand? Now the UPA government has set up a committee to determine backwardness of states. Therefore, Odisha will certainly get its right. BJD has been doing politics out of the demand," Singh said.
Singh said that Congress's adjournment notice for an adjournment debate on the SCS issue was accepted by the Speaker. "Instead of participating in the debate, the BJD members disrupted the proceeding for narrow political gain," he said.
Union planning minister Rajiv Shukla in his clarification stated that what he said in Rajya Sabha was based on the present criteria governing special category status. “The union government has set up the Raghuram Rajan committee to fix new criteria for determining the backwardness of states. After the Committee submits its report, other states like Odisha, Rajasthan and Jharkhand can also be granted special category status,” Shukla added.