Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s demand for ‘special focus state’ status for calamity-hit states has evoked a mixed response from opposition parties, with the Congress Wednesday extending its support to the move and the BJP terming it a “political drama”.
Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra on Wednesday said the chief minister’s demand of ‘focus state’ status for Odisha is a “justified one”.
“I fully agree with the demand made by Patnaik. Odisha becomes a victim of natural calamity every year. The CM has rightly placed the demand for ‘special focus state’ status (before the Centre),” Mishra told reporters here.
He, however, flayed the CM for not pursuing the matter during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule, when Patnaik was a minister in the cabinet and his party an ally of the BJP.
“Naveen Babu was once a Union minister in the NDA-led government, and the BJD was a partner of the coalition government. He should clarify why he had not raised this demand at that time,” Mishra said.
Patnaik Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the states hit by major disasters as ‘Special Focus States’ with benefits of the special category status for a specified period.
He pointed out that the unique geo-climatic conditions of Odisha make it vulnerable to frequent natural disasters.
Criticising Patnaik over his demand, the Odisha unit of BJP said the ‘special focus state’ tag “does not exist in government parlance”.
“This is another political drama by the BJD. They (BJD) were so far seeking a ‘special category’ status, and now they want a ‘focus state’ tag,” BJP state general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said.
The ruling BJD should focus on the development of the state and ensure proper implementation of the central schemes for the benefit of the people, he insisted.
“The BJD government is demanding a status that does not really exist… Stop blowing the trumpet on the successful handling of cyclone Fani and implement central schemes. If any irregularities are found in the implementation of the schemes, we will bring them to public notice,” Harichandan added.
At least 64 people were killed and over 1.64 crore affected in cyclone Fani, which hit Odisha coast on May 3, leaving behind a trail of destruction.
Official estimates have pegged the total loss to public properties and the requirement of fund for relief measures at 9,336 crore.