BJD, BJP Clash over Union Ministers’ Visit to 10 Aspirational Districts

The visit of 10 Union ministers to 10 districts of Odisha, where the Aspirational Districts Programme has been launched, has stirred up a political controversy.

The 10 Union ministers will review the implementation of different Central schemes at Nuapada, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Malkangiri, Bolangir, Dhenkanal, Koraput and Gajpati.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited Dhenkanal district on Wednesday, while Union Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan visited Koraput district. By April 20, Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will go to Malkangiri, Arjun Munda to Kalahandi, Prahlad Singh Patel to Gajpati, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti to Bolangir, Satya Pal Singh Baghel to Nuapada, Shobha Karandlaje to Nabarangpur, Som Parkash to Raygada and Dr Subhas Sarkar will visit Kandhamal district.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Congress have termed it “political agenda” in the name of review, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it is for “development”. The BJP has alleged state officials are not cooperating with Union ministers.

BJD Parliamentarian Amar Pattnaik said, “The CM demanded special focus status for Odisha. Given that one-third districts of Odisha are underdeveloped, our demand is genuine. If the Centre had allocated funds, development would have been possible.”

“The review is fine, but it should not be politicised. If one minister can review 10 districts, what is the need for 10 Union ministers’ visit,” asked senior Congress leader Ganeswar Behera.

The BJP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on development of 10 underdeveloped districts of Odisha. “Huge funds have been allocated for development of districts, which the citizens are unaware of. In such a scenario, non-cooperation of state officials is a matter of concern,” said BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra.

“In comparison to the previous record, the Union government has been allocating more than 166% funds to the state. The BJD is obstructing development.”

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