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'Congress, BJD treat poor as vote banks in Odisha'

During his visit to Odisha’s Kalahandi district as part of his campaign trail, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went ballistic against the BJD government in the state and the Congress. As if touching a raw nerve of the BJD government, Modi referred to issues like case of Dana Majhi-a tribal man who walked 10 kms carrying his wife’s body on his shoulders in the absence of an ambulance-the migration of Odia youths to other states to work as daily wagers and the state’s backward economy, which have portrayed the state in poor light.

“The Congress and the BJD think the poor are their vote bank. They have conspired to keep the poor of the country, poor,” he said.

He accused the state government of being a barrier between the central schemes and the poor and alleged that it facilitated mining and chit fund scams while allowing corruption to spread its tentacles in the state.

“The Centre provides cotton and wheat for the poor at subsidised prices. But the Odisha government doesn’t buy them. Almost 12 crore farmers are being given ₹75, 000 crore every year.  But none of them is from Odisha. The BJD government is not letting the poor avail benefits of these schemes. It also has not implemented the Ayushman Bharat scheme under which the poor can avail health insurance up to ₹5 lakh.”

Modi, who was vociferous in his attacks against the Congress, spoke about the time when Rajiv Gandhi had visited the district. “The Congress has a past with Kalahandi. It was here where Rajiv Gandhi admitted that he when he sends ₹1 for the Adivasi, the Adivasi gets only 15 paisa. My question is when he was aware that someone was siphoning off the money in the interim, why didn’t he take steps to stop it. These people diagnose the disease, but don’t have the strength to cure it,” he said.

“But what the Congress couldn’t do in decades, I have done in five years. Now, I can say with pride that if Delhi government sends 100 paisa for the poor, I would ensure that the entire amount reaches the poor,” he added.

Invoking central schemes for tribals including the decision to form a ministry for tribals, model schools for Adivasi students and initiating the Van Dhan Yojana that helps tribals eke out a livelihood through Minor Forest Products (MSP), Modi urged the public to give the BJP government a chance to change the condition of the poor in the state.

Repeatedly using the phrase “mo Odisha” (my Odisha) in his speech, Modi urged the masses to help the BJP uproot dynasty politics and create a similar history to what their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh and Tripura have done.

“Nineteen years (tenure of Naveen Patnaik’s government) is not a small time. One becomes a doctor or an engineer by that time. You have given enough time. You must take a fresh decision now. You have to strengthen this ‘chowkidar’, to take you towards development” he said.

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