Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 11:
As expected, the no confidence motion moved by the opposition Congress against the BJD government today fell through in the Odisha Assembly. While 26 members voted in favour of the motion, which was also supported by the BJP, 95 voted against it.
Though the defeat of the motion was entirely along expected lines, the five-hour long debate on it certainly left it bruised on a number of fronts, not the least on the mining and chit fund scams.
Initiating the debate on the motion, the Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan demanded a CBI probe into the mining and chit fund scams and alleged that minerals worth over Rs 3 lakh crore were looted during the Naveen Patnaik regime and about 20 lakh people duped by Ponzi companies with government’s help.
“After MB Shah Commission has indicated that the chief minister should hand over the case to CBI to ensure transparency in the investigation, Naveen has no moral authority to remain in power,” Harichandan said.
Harichandan also dubbed the state government as inefficient and alleged that it was run by bureaucrats with ministers keeping officers in good humour to survive.
On Patnaik’s charge of central negligence, he claimed that the UPA government had sanctioned Rs 52,000 crore to Odisha between 2004 to 2009 while the previous NDA government in which BJD was a partner, gave only Rs 7,000 crore between 1999-2004.
Calling for the BJD government to go, the Congress leader said rape and murder of women have become the order of the day, while farmers were committing suicide even as the state government claimed to have increased food grain production.
Hitting back at the Opposition charge, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the vote of no confidence was a clear demonstration of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Congress.
“When our government came to office in the year 2000, the government that they have left us, the earlier Government, was practically bankrupt; corruption and nepotism was the order of the day. As a result of our government’s fiscal management, the State Plan expenditure has gone up from Rs. 2484 crores in 1999-2000 to Rs.21,467 crores in 2013-14. The benefit of this fiscal turnaround has gone into programmes for poor people,” said the Chief Minister.
Replying to the Opposition allegations on the mining scam, he said, “From our side, we have taken a number of steps to stop illegal mining in the state. These include eleven vigilance cases in which charge-sheets have been filed, setting up of State Level and District Level Enforcement squads, automation of the process in the mining sector, DGPS Survey of mine boundaries etc.”
Patnaik also clarified his government’s stand on the chit fund scam stating that the government had taken a series of steps not just to bring the culprits to book and to plug the loopholes in the existing laws, but also to ensure that the depositors get back their hard earned money.
“The State Government has appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice R.K. Patra. The Odisha Protection of depositors (In Financial Establishment) Act, 2011 has come into force with effect from 19-08-2013. We have set up designated Courts at four places for speedy trial of Chit Fund cases. In order to protect the genuine small investors, our government has already created a Corpus Fund of Rs.300 Crore. 388 cases have been registered and 488 persons have been arrested till 31-07-2013,” he said in his reply.