New Delhi, Oct. 30: The BJP has sought a comprehensive report on the starvation deaths in Orissa from its state unit, said party spokesman Arun Jaitley today.
As Jaitley waxed eloquent on the deaths by starvation in Rajasthan at his press briefing, he was asked why the BJP was silent on the same reports from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
“Starvation deaths, wherever they have occurred, are serious. But in Rajasthan it is particularly serious because the state government failed to lift the food stockpile supplied by the Centre under the Sampurn Gram Rozgar Yojna,” he alleged.
To try and substantiate his charge, he claimed that of the 3.31 lakh tonnes of foodgrains given to the Rajasthan government, only 1.14 lakh tonnes — “less than 35 per cent” were picked up. Jaitley did not have the corresponding statistics for Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
But it was clear that the BJP was using the starvation deaths as a stick to beat the Congress government in Rajasthan because Orissa and Andhra are ruled by its allies, the Biju Janata Dal and the Telugu Desam Party, respectively.
Co-spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi demanded the Congress should direct its chief ministers to stop staging sit-ins and protests against the Centre and “pay more attention to the burning problems in their states”.
The press was informed that a three-member team constituted by BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu had toured the drought-stricken Bharan district of Rajasthan over the last two days and found that starvation had claimed 51 lives. “This was entirely due to the state government’s criminal negligence because its granaries were overflowing. However, the poor people could not avail of the food supply, firstly because they did not have money to buy the ration of 35 kg at Rs 2 per kg and secondly, the state government miserably failed to implement the central government’s food for work scheme meant for such people,” claimed Naqvi.