Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Mar 6:
Union Minister and campaign committee chief of the Odisha state Congress Srikant Jena today challenged the BJD chief to a public debate on Central assistance and corruption in the state and set an ultimatum to respond to the challenge by Monday.
“We challenge chief minister Naveen Patnaik to have a public debate on Central assistance to the state during UPA regime and what the state government has done in the last 14 years. Let the chief minister decide the place, date and platform. We give him time till Monday to respond. If he does not respond, we will go to meet him and call for a debate,” said Jena at a press conference here on Thursday.
He was flanked by PCC president Jaydev Jena and former chief minister Giridhari Gamang while addressing the press conference.
Responding to the attack on the Central government by Naveen Patnaik on the issue of mining royalty yesterday, Jena asked Patnaik why was he silent on the issue while he was the Steel and Mines Minister at the Centre.
“We have been demanding levy cess on minerals, which could bring benefits of Rs 10,000 crore per year to the state exchequer. But, the chief minister only knows how to benefit the miners,” said the Union Minister.
The Congress leader also attacked the Chief Minister for remaining a mute spectator to the Rs 60,000 crore mining scam in the state. “We are ready for a debate on the mining issue. But is the state government ready? The state government is responsible for the mining scam and the Shah Commission has recommended a CBI inquiry,” said Jena.
The campaign committee chief also attacked the government for providing electricity at higher price to people while showing undue favour to the distribution companies.
“Can you please explain why is this happening, if not for your government’s connivance with private electricity companies who owe thousands of crores to Gridco and can still get away with raising prices every month? Why are these private companies not being audited?” he asked the chief minister.
Highlighting the contributions of the UPA government towards Odisha, he said it had decided to set up eight medical colleges, including AIIMS in Bhubaneswar ,and was spending crores through National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) apart from allotting around Rs 800 crore through Employees State Insurance Corporation (ECIS) for a medical college in the city.
Jena sought to know how many hospitals the state government. had built in the last 15 years.
Alleging that Central assistance on Phalin had been used in election by BJD workers, he demanded an inquiry into the matter.
With BJD hijacking the subsidised rice scheme, the Congress released a poster today which shows that Central contribution for the Rs one rice scheme is 90 per cent.
“Where is 10 kg out of the 35 kg rice given by the Centre for every BPL family going?” he asked.
Notably, the state government is allocating 25 kg rice to the poor people in the state as against the 35 kg quota.
Reacting to the Swabhiman Rally held by the ruling party yesterday, PCC president Jaydev Jena said the chief minister,who can’t speak in Odia even after ruling the state 14 years, should not talk about the pride of Odisha.