Congress senses secret BJP-BJD deal
by Ashok B Sharma on 01 Mar 2016 1 Comment
As Bhubaneswar tops the list of smart cities to be built in the first phase and the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik praises the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu for the first time for being generous to the state, the Congress senses a secret deal between the BJP and the ruling BJD in the state.


The Naveen government wants the central watchdog, the Central Bureau of Intelligence, to be slow in investigating the ponzi and mining scams that have engulfed senior BJD leaders. In return the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre would seek BJD’s support for the passage of critical Bills held up in the Rajya Sabha. BJD has not much been a problem to the NDA when issues like Rohith Vemula and JNU were discussed in Parliament


Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who was recently in Odisha has alleged: “It is clear that there is a deal between BJP and BJD to subvert the ongoing CBI probe into chit fund scam to save senior ruling party leaders in Odisha and get the regional outfit’s support in Parliament in return.” He said that PM Modi acted like a ventilator and CBI as oxygen cylinder, Naveen Patnaik happened to be the patient as the CBI probe in chit fund scam slowed down. To justify his statement he said that a Union minister and senior tribal leader from the state recently came out with the truth “by mistake”.


Around 20 lakh people in the state were hit by the chit fund scam involving alleged irregularities to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore.


Jairam Ramesh said that there should be a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the mining scam to the tune of Rs 3 lakh crore in the state. Though Justice MB Shah Commission had recommended CBI inquiry into mining scam in Odisha, the Modi Government is yet to take any action in this direction even 18 months after coming to power, he said.


Naveen has lauded Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu over the allocation of Rs 4,682 crore to Odisha against the demand for Rs 5,000 crore and for accepting some of the state’s major demands. He requested the Railway Minister not to revise the allocation downward as was done previous year. Last year, the actual allotment was 35% less than the demand for Odisha. This year there is an increase of 30% in the allotment this year as compared to the last year.


Naveen has appreciated sanctioning of eight new line projects - Sambalpur-Berhampur (270 km), Jeypore-Malkangiri (130 km), Jeypore-Nabarangpur (38 km), Bondamunda-Rourkela (9.3 km), Narayangarh-Bhadrak third line (155 km), Junagarh-Ambaguda via Nabarangpur (145 km), Banspani-Arbil (17.5 km) and Barsuan-Bansapani-Narayangarh (52 km).


Most importantly, the state’s demand for extending the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada through the coast of Odisha has been accepted. Rail connectivity to Paradip port is under implementation and the Ministry of Shipping has plans to develop it as a port city. Prime Minister Modi recently inaugurated the Rs 34,555 crore IOCL refinery in Paradip. He also inaugurated the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) in Jatani near Bhubaneswar.


But the people of western Odisha who were agitating for a separate Koshal State are unhappy as their demands for new trains were not met, such as Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani or Superfast Express through Sambalpur, fast train from Titlagarh to Allahabad via Sambalpur, Express train to Berhampur, regularisation of Sambalpur-Yeshvantpur and train from Bhubaneswar to Chennai via Sambalpur.


Though Bhubaneswar has topped the list for development of smart cities, in a recent survey conducted by Quality Council of India for cleanliness - Swachh Survekshan - it has ranked below at 24. However, the city improved its ranking from 56 in the previous year.


Despite getting enough from the central kitty, Naveen Patnaik regrets exclusion of Bhubaneswar from the Rail-based Mass Rapid Transit System. The state government has pledged to re-develop Bhubaneswar station with world class facilities and has been asking railways for similar re-development of Bhubaneswar New, Puri, Naraj and Cuttack stations, he said.


Though no specific station was named, the Railway Minister announced to re-develop 400 stations through PPP.


The Chief Minister regrets the Centre cutting down financial assistance for drought in 2015 by Rs 214 crore. Though the Centre had announced financial assistance of Rs 815 crore for the Odisha drought in 2015, which affected 28 of 30 districts, the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a letter to the state government on January 22 this year stated that it would provide drought assistance of Rs 600.52 crore as against Rs 815 crore announced earlier.


Patnaik has not given up his demand for Special Category State for Odisha. He stands to gain much from the Centre if he plays his cards wisely. 

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