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House erupts on funds flow slur

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 25: The Assembly today witnessed uproarious scenes over the alleged step-motherly treatment meted out to Orissa by the Union government when it came to releasing assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF).

At one point, disaster management minister Surya Narayan Patro and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh were engaged in a wordy duel over the issue.

However, the personal aspersions hurled by them were expunged from the proceedings by Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat.

The contentious issue came up during discussion on a question relating to the release of special central assistance from the NCCF during past three years.

While replying to the question, Patro said the UPA government had not provided adequate central assistance to Orissa from the NCCF. The Centre was providing more funds to those states, which were enjoying its favour, he added.

While the Congress-led government at the Centre is favouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, it was ignoring the claims of Orissa, alleged Patro. “Even when MPs from Orissa met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought adequate central funds, he retorted that money does not grow on trees,” he recalled.

He was supported by several BJD members, who deplored the “neglect and step-motherly treatment” of the UPA government. They dared the Congress members to come forward to raise their voice against the alleged central neglect.

“If the Congress is routed in Orissa in the next election, it will be a befitting reply to the UPA government for its neglect and discrimination,” Patro said. Strongly objecting to such remark, Singh alleged that the minister was not placing the real facts and misleading the House.

Infuriated, Patro made certain disparaging comments on the performance of Singh during his stint as a minister in the Congress government, which were later expunged.

Singh sought the details on the release of central assistance to Orissa during the NDA and UPA regime. “Let the government publish a white paper, if it has guts,” he dared.

Singh said he had suggested during the last session constitution of an all-party committee, which would meet the central ministers and raise the issue of neglect towards Orissa. But the government did not act, he said.

The chief minister should raise this issue at the meeting of the National Development Council, suggested NCP leader Amar Satpathy.

Patro said this suggestion would place before the chief minister.

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