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Blame game rocks House

- War of words over farmers, rail budget

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 18: The BJD and the Opposition Congress today tried to outsmart each other in the Assembly raising various issues.

While the Opposition tried to corner the government on the issue of neglecting farmers, the ruling party raked up the issue of the Centre’s apathy towards the state’s cause. They pointed out how the Centre was neglecting Odisha in respect of expansion of railway network despite earning revenue to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore from the state per annum.

Protesting against recent reduction of railway allocation, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today wrote to the Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. “When the state contributes revenue of more than Rs 7,500 crore annually to the Indian Railways, it is a matter of regret that Rs 280 crore has been reduced out the paltry budgetary allocation of Rs 723 crore this year. Such repeated reductions in budgetary allocation, that too thrice a year, will greatly hamper the process of improving the railway connectivity in Odisha,” said Naveen.

He said that in June 2012, an amount of Rs 186 crore was reduced from the original budgetary allocation of Rs 723 crore and this was again slashed by Rs 34 crore in September. Later, another Rs 60 crore was curtailed from the budget.

In October, the chief minister wrote to the then railway minister, C.P. Joshi, protesting against the reduction in central allocation to the state.

Congress members trooped into the Well, accusing the government of neglecting the farmers’ cause. They also raised slogans against the government for alleged police atrocities on the farmers while staging a demonstration in front of the chief minister’s residence yesterday. “The Naveen Patnaik government is working against the farmers,” said Congress MLA Anup Sai.

As the Congress tried to steal the limelight, BJD MLAs, led by senior member Pradeep Maharathy, raised slogans against the Centre for slashing Rs 60 crore from its budgetary allocation.

After BJD and Congress MLAs indulged in a minor scuffle, Speaker Pradeep Amat adjourned the House twice.

While the ruling party MLAs staged a dharna near the Mahatma Gandhi statue inside the Assembly, its youth wing staged a 12-hour dharna near the East Coast Railway headquarters and the wagon repair factory at Mancheswar.

“Any sort of central negligence will not be tolerated. The BJD will continue to fight against the Centre’s apathy against the state,” said party MLA Bhagirathi Badjena.

Later, the police detained around 200 party workers, led by its youth wing president Sanjay Dasburma, while they were trying to obstruct the employees from entering the wagon repair factory.

The Congress also took up the issue of farmers to the street by organising a protest rally against the Centre’s apathy towards the farmers.