Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 3:
Congress and BJP, the two major opposition parties in the state have questioned the real motive and intent behind Odisha government’s announcement to rollout Rs 5 a square meal for the urban poor in five cities from April 1.
While the Congress has termed it as politically motivated and said that it is aimed at the elections to the urban local bodies in Rourkela, Sambalpur and some NACs, the BJP has used the occasion to launch an attack on the Naveen Patnaik government by saying that it wants the people of Odisha to remain poor forever.
“The offer of rice and dalma at Rs 5 for the urban poor is purely a political gimmick to get votes and nothing else. Since elections to the civic bodies in Rourkela, Sambalpur and six Notified Area Councils (NAC) s will be held in a few days time; this has been done to influence the voters. Furthermore, this also proved that the number of poor and unemployed has spiraled in the urban areas of the state and hence there is a need for feeding them at Rs 5 a square meal to survive”, said young Congress leader and former MP from Nabarangpur Pradip Majhi.
The BJP has doled a piece of advice to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that he should rather try to make Odisha free from poverty in the next five years rather than want it to remain poor always.
“This government wants the people of Odisha to remain poor forever and queue up for Rs 1 a kg rice, Rs 5 a square meal, umbrellas, blankets etc. Let the people be in difficulties always and depend on the government always. Has the government ever implemented a single yojana to make Odisha free from poverty and make it self sufficient? Therefore I feel neither the aim nor the motive of this scheme is significant”, commented senior BJP leader and former state unit chief Suresh Pujari.
“Naveen babu should prepare a plan to make people of Odisha free from poverty in the next five years like the proficient states of Haryana and Punjab and not queue up for Rs 1 a kg rice, Rs 5 a square meal, free umbrellas, blankets, laptops, mobile etc. Let not people of Odisha be ruined under these freebies”, said Pujari in his piece of advice to the Odisha Chief Minister.
The ruling BJD, however, has defended the scheme and said it should not be given a political colour as it is aimed at benefitting the genuinely poor people who do not have the means to buy themselves a meal while they attend the courts and hospitals.
“This scheme is especially meant for poor people visiting hospitals for treatment, to attend court dates, to the collector’s office for some work, are unable to buy a costly meal for themselves at the railway station or the bus stand while travelling, for those who do not have the financial resources this scheme will be highly beneficial for them. This will be the third state to implement it after Tamilnadu and Karnataka. Those coming to cities and towns for some work will highly benefit under the programme. It should not be given a political hue. Will the people vote for this? Those who know that they will lose in the elections are already into the game of finding out what reason to put forth for their defeats in the elections ahead from now”, said BJD spokesperson and Barchana MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy.