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Budget a huge let down, says Niranjan

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 10:

Describing the first budget of the NDA government presented in the parliament today as a ‘huge let down’, senior Odisha Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today said the BJP-led government at the Centre must have realised by now that the economy does not run on rhetoric and that budget is not a magic wand.

Niranjan Patnaik, Former PCC chief
Niranjan Patnaik, Former PCC chief

Terming the budget highly disappointing for backward states like Odisha, Patnaik said the promise of a special package for the backward states in eastern India made in the BJP election manifesto had raised hopes that Odisha would get a special package of around Rs 5, 000 crores for accelerated development of agriculture and irrigation, which would have ushered in a Green Revolution in the state. It was also expected that provision would be made in the budget for the setting up an agriculture university in western Odisha, he said.

“But unfortunately, a provision of only Rs 1, 000 crore has been made in the budget for irrigation in the whole country at a time when most states, including Odisha, are staring at the prospect of a drought. Odisha’s share out of this would at best be Rs 5 to 10 crores, which would hardly be enough to take up any long term plan,” Patnaik said in a statement released here today.

The former president of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) also rued the fact that there was no announcement about conferment of special category status to Odisha as promised by the BJP before the elections.

Patnaik, however, did admit that the budget has some welcome features. In announcing that the welfare schemes like MGNREGA, NRHM, Sava Siksha Abhijaan and Annapaurna scheme (under which the poor in Odisha get rice at Rs 1 a kg) would continue, the BJP has admitted that what the UPA government had done for the people was right after all, he said.

“When the BJP was in the opposition, its leaders claimed that cutting down on subsidies and big ticket reforms need a 64-inch wide chest. After coming to power, they must have realised that government policies do not run on rhetoric. Doing away with subsidies is neither easy nor desirable,” Patnaik said.

While welcoming the decision to set up an IIM in Odisha, the former minister, however, suggested that it should be set up in Cuttack, Brahamapur, Keonjhar or Sambalpur rather than in Bhubaneswar.

“The abolition of employment exchanges and setting up of career centres in their place is a welcome step. But the allocation of Rs 100 crore made for it is simply not enough,” the Congress leader said in his statement.