Unhappy voices from west over RS

Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: A cross-section of people in west Odisha on Thursday voiced their discontent over the non-inclusion of any politician or social activist from the region for three Rajya Sabha seats on a day chief minister Naveen Patnaik appointed three members of the State Planning Board and chairpersons of four state-run corporations.

People of the region were expecting nomination for at least one Rajya Sabha seat as the three seats, which are falling vacant on April 3, were held by A.U. Singdeo, Dilip Tirkey and A.V. Swami - all from west Odisha.

The people of west Odisha feel betrayed as Naveen announced the names of Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Achyuta Samanta and Prasanta Nanda for the three Rajya Sabha seats on Wednesday.

Now, from the 10 Rajya Sabha members from Odisha, only Prasanna Kumar Acharya is from Bargarh in west Odisha.

Former chairperson of the State Commission for Women Jyoti Panigrahi of Balangir has openly reacted to the alleged neglect of west Odisha in particular and women of the state in general.

"Women are frustrated on the International Women Day," she said.

Social worker Bhagabat Prasad Nanda said: "There should have been at least one representation from this region when all the three are retiring from west Odisha."

Former vice-chancellor of Berhampur university A.P. Padhi said: "We were expecting at least one seat but this is unfortunate. West Odisha provides 50 per cent revenue to the state exchequer but we are still deprived of our rights."

Ashok Dash, convenor of the Central Action Committee, which is spearheading the agitation of west Odisha lawyers for establishment of a high court bench there, said: "Voice of the neglected region will not be heard in the Rajya Sabha."

Bijoy Pradhan, a retired professor, said the claim of prominent leaders and eminent persons of west Odisha had been ignored. He said: "We were expecting positive results after the outcome of the Bijepur election from the ruling party."

However, textile and handloom minister Snehangini Chhuria, who belongs to the region, denied the allegation, said: "Prasanna Acharya is from west Odisha. Besides, the chief minister has to consider various factors before making nominations to the Upper House."

On the other hand, the chief minister on Thursday appointed former Kakatpur MLA Rabindra Kumar Mallick, former Balasore zila parishad president Girish Chandra Das and senior BJD leader from Koraput Iswar Panigrahi as members of the State Planning Board. They will enjoy the minister of state status. Muzibula Khan, aka Muna khan, was appointed as chairperson of the State Cashew Development Corporation and Pravat Aditya Mishra from Bijepur will head the Agro Industries Corporation. Ramakrishna Das Mohapatra, a BJD leader from Puri district, has been appointed as head of Small Industries Corporation and Krutibas Patra from Kendrapara district as chairperson of Agriculture Promotion and Investment Corporation Limited.

"It would have been better if I had been nominated to the Rajya Sabha," said Muna Khan.


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