Bhubaneswar, Feb. 4: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today took a leaf out of his Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee’s book to mobilise youth voters in support of his party.
Under the Biju Yuva Sashaktikarana Yojana, 4,000 youth clubs in urban areas will be given a one-time grant of Rs 10,000. Besides they will also be given funds as the “programme-based assistance” under the scheme.
Though this is Naveen’s first step to woo youths, Mamata has defied criticism to dole out lakhs to clubs.
“If any youth club organises a health camp, financial assistance will be given taking its expenditure into account. This will be over and above a one-time grant,” an official said.
Later, the programme will be extended to rural areas. The scheme will cost the exchequer Rs 4 crore during the current financial year.
Another official said the youth clubs would be asked to spend the grant on purchase of sports equipment and organising cultural events. “They can also spend the money to organise youth and health camps,” he said.
Nehru Youth Clubs will be asked to initiate steps to strengthen the capacity building of the youth clubs.
Opposition Congress and the BJP, however, termed the move as an “election gimmick” of the Naveen Patnaik government.
Pradesh Congress committee president Niranjan Patnaik said: “Naveen is scared of an election. He wants to buy votes of youths by giving them lollipops. If the government really wants development of the youth, they should be given opportunities for self-employment.”
State BJP legislature party leader K.V. Singh Deo said: “The government has no right to squander away the pubic fund in the name of the Biju Yuva Sashaktikarana Yojana. Instead of giving away money like this, they should appoint teachers to educate the children, which will benefit the state at large in the long run.”
On the other hand, Saheed Sporting spokesperson Pankaj Patnaik welcomed the move. “The financial help will certainly help the club to buy sports equipment and organising sports activities.”
The youth empowerment scheme was announced only two days after Naveen Patnaik launched the subsidised Re 1 a kilo rice scheme for the BPL families in Malkangiri.
Naveen today also visited another tribal-dominated Rayagada and inaugurated a number of projects.