Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 9:
Stung by the unusually strong criticism by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who accused it of involvement in massive corruption and siphoning off public money meant for development works, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) hit back with full force accusing the UPA government at the Centre of being ‘solely responsible’ for the continuing poverty and stalled industrial growth in the state.
“Odisha is a victim of UPA government’s apathy. Not only has the Central government discriminated against Odisha in the release of funds compared to other states, it is totally responsible for stalling industrial growth in the state by sitting over various clearances,” said BJD vice-president and Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya.
Asked about the Gandhi’s charge that the state government allowed miners to loot Rs 60,000 crore by raising minerals illegally, Acharya pointed to the fact that the Justice Shah Commission has also held the Centre equally responsible for the scam.
Another BJD vice president and state health minister Damodar Rout said Gandhi knew nothing about the state and that he was only mouthing words of his party leaders.
“He does not know anything about the history, geography and economics of the state (Odisha),” said Rout.
“We suggest Rahul Gandhi should consult Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the (Union) Finance Ministry for knowledge on the economic situation of Odisha before making any remark on the state’s development,” he said.
Rout claimed that Odisha had registered faster economic progress than the national average under BJD-rule and had earned praise from United Nations for the successful handling of the situation during Cyclone Phailin.
BJP Reacts Too
On its part, BJP also criticised both Gandhi and the state government on the mining scam. “The Shah panel has held both the Centre and the state responsible for the illegal mining activities. They both have to answer to the people of Odisha and face action,” said BJP national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan.
State BJP president KV Singhdeo said the statement of Rahul Gandhi is like empty vessel, which sounds too much.
“Rahul said that Odisha is a backward state. But, the Centre and state government are both responsible for making Odisha a backward state. Due to the inefficiency of the governments, the educational system, health system has deteriorated while unemployment has increased. The statement of Rahul is just like a water bubble,” said Singdeo.
He asked the Gandhi scion why the Centre was not taking action against the BJD government, which he branded a corrupt government for indulging in various acts of corruption including the chit fund, MGNREGA and mining scams.
Alleging that the there is an unholy nexus between the BJD and the Congress, he said the visit of Gandhi has failed to serve the purpose.