Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 16:
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram today came down heavily on the Odisha Government for its failure to spend financial assistance given by the Centre and accused it of diverting Central funds meant for tribal welfare to other causes.
“Odisha Government has failed to utilise the Rs 421 crores given by the Union Government for various tribal welfare schemes during 2014-15. We have also noticed diversion of state funds meant for various tribal schemes for other purposes,”said Oram, speaking at the national executive meet of BJP ST Morcha in Bhubaneswar today.
“Utilisation certificate for over Rs 186 crores of Central funds is still awaited. During a recent review of the working of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) in four areas, it was found that funds for 2011 were still lying unutilised,” Oram added.
Addressing the two-day national executive body meeting, President of BJP ST Morcha Faggan Singh Kulaste also trained his guns on the state government while praising the policies of the NDA government.
“We are going to move a draft proposal against the Odisha Government protesting against the delayed delivery of land pattas to tribals, low selling price of forest goods and non-implementation of reservation rules applicable for tribals,” said Kulaste.
“We are here to share the achievements of Modi government with the people. The political presence of BJP in the state is a little weak now. We are going to work to strengthen it in coming days through the ST forum,” he added.
Odisha BJP is trying all it can to influence the tribal voters in a state that has 33 reserved constituencies and tribal voters play a key role in at least 25 of them. After giving Cabinet minister berth to the lone BJP Lok Sabha MP Jual Oram, the Central BJP leadership has now anointed Draupadi Murmu, another tribal leader from Odisha, as the Governor of neighbouring Jharkhand.
Interestingly, they have also accepted Giridhar Gamang in the party, whose vote led to the fall of the Vajpayee-led NDA government in 1999. Even though Gamang is yet to become a party member officially, he is scheduled to attend the ST cell meeting tomorrow.
While the BJP leadership blew hot and cold over the incompetency of the state government, BJD Spokesperson Amar Prasad Satapathy attempted to dismiss the allegations levelled by Oram and Kulaste without getting into specifics.
“The allegations are baseless and politically motivated. Our actions speak for ourselves. We are doing a good job in Maoist infested tribal belt. Infrastructure development, education missions are also in good shape. People from other states are coming to see our work,” said Satapathy cleverly skipping the fund diversion charge.