Accusing Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of shedding 'crocodile tears' for
tribals, Union Minister Srikant Jena challenged him today to a public debate on the central assistance given to the state.
"You (Patnaik) were a central minister in the previous NDA government. Let us meet at an open platform to discuss on the volume of central assistance given by the UPA government and the NDA government," Jena, Union Minister of State for Statistics & Programme Implementation said in a 4-page long letter to
Jena's statement followed Patnaik's allegation that Pranab Mukherjee as union finance minister had doled out lakhs of crore of rupees to certain states.
"Could it be that this money is going because he (Pranab) wanted certain parties like Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar's Janata
Dal(U) and Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee to support his candidature as Rastrapati of India?" Patnaik had asked.
Dubbing the BJD government in Odisha as 'anti-tribal', Jena said the tribals have not been given adequate representation in the state council of ministers.
"While at least four tribal persons should be in the ministry, you (Naveen) have only one adivasi in the council of ministers," Jena said adding the BJD had instead dubbed Congress as anti-tribal during electioneering for the Presidential polls.
"Congress is the only political party which had installed two tribals as Chief Minister of
Odisha," he said.
The two tribal chief ministers were Hemanand Biswal and Giridhar Gamang.
Elaborating his charge, Jena said 13 tribals were gunned down and their palms
were chopped off by the police at Kalinga Nagar as they opposed land acquisition
for a private steel industry.
"Three other tribals were killed by the police at Maikanch for opposing an
industry," Jena said in the letter claiming that 20 of the state's 30
districts inhabitated by tribals were hit by Maoist menace.
The central minister said the UPA government's intervention on the other hand
could save thousands of Dangaria Kondh tribals who were fighting for protection
of Niyamgiri hills.
He also alleged that tribals and dalits were not given adequate reservation in
education and jobs in the state.
Referring to burning of his effigies by BJD activists over Pranab Mukherjee's resignation
from the post of Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute, Jena said neither
he nor his ministry had any role in it.
"ISI is an autonomous body and its council elects the chairman. Therefore,
I am not involved in the process ... I doubt that BJD's bid to drag my name into
the controversy was nothing but to divert public attention from the infighting
in the ruling party," Jena said.
BJD vice-president and finance minister Prafulla Ghadai had earlier accused Jena
of facilitating Pranab Mukherjee's resignation on back date.
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