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Naveen Patnaik uses Mahanadi dispute to sting BJP

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Dec 18, 2017, 2:00 am IST
Updated : Dec 18, 2017, 2:00 am IST

BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has instructed all his 20 Lok Sabha and eight Rajya Sabha members to raise the Mahanadi issue in Parliament.

Ruling BJD legislators and BJP members exchange verbal blows in Odisha Assembly’s Winter Session.
 Ruling BJD legislators and BJP members exchange verbal blows in Odisha Assembly’s Winter Session.

Bhubaneswar: After making steady progress in expanding its base in the state in the last couple of years, the BJP in Odisha now finds itself on the back foot, especially after the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD relaunched recently its old and time-tested weapon of alleging “Central neglect” to halt the juggernaut of the saffron party.

This time, the regional party has not only accused the Centre of neglecting in release of monetary grants and assistances to Odisha for various ongoing welfare programmes, but also for “taking sides” with the BJP government in Chhattisgarh on the Mahanadi water dispute issue.

The BJP state unit, which had cornered the BJD on issues such as multi-crore rupee chit fund scam, mining scam and farmer suicides appears to be struggling to wriggle out the situation.

On the Mahanadi issue, the BJD has been accusing the Raman Singh government of pursuing massive construction activities on the river in its upstream, preventing flow of the water into Odisha.

The ruling party in Odisha alleges that the Narendra Modi government is deliberately not taking any step to prevent the Chhattisgarh government from constructing a large number of barrages on the river as the state (Chhattisgarh) would go to Assembly polls next year.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen PatnaikOdisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

The Centre’s alleged delay in constitution of a tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute has also provided the BJD extra ammunition to attack the BJP.

Though the regional party, in accordance with the Inter-state River Water Dispute Act, 1956, on November 19, 2016, demanded the formation of the tribunal - the Centre is said to be sitting over it citing that Odisha has not furnished it the required documents.

The Act provides that the Union government must constitute the tribunal within a year from the date of receiving the demand from a state.

In the winter session of the Assembly that concluded on December 14, the BJP state unit, despite all its political manoeuvering and resistance, had to give its nod for adoption of resolution to put pressure on the NDA government for the tribunal’s formation to solve the Mahanadi water dispute.

BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has instructed all his 20 Lok Sabha and eight Rajya Sabha members to raise the Mahanadi issue in Parliament. The saffron party, which was growing steadily in the state after its overwhelming performance in the February rural polls, has found the renewed attack by the BJD very tough task to handle. It finds that the advantage, it gained after a host of BJD leaders were arrested by the CBI for their alleged involvement in the chit fund scam, fading away gradually.

A BJP source said that party strategists are reworking on issues to get back the momentum by highlighting the rise in farmer suicide cases, unemployment problem, poor healthcare system and increase in atrocities against women, dalits and tribals.

In fact, in the just-concluded Winter Session of the Assembly, the BJP wanted to corner the BJD. However, the belligerent approach of the BJD lawmakers on the Mahanadi issue from the opening day deprived them of the opportunity.

BJP general secretary and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh is optimistic about a turnaround in the party’s fortune before the 2018 urban local body polls.

“The BJD can’t escape from the people’s scrutiny for its failure to give good governance. People have decided to discard this government and bring BJP to power in 2019,” he said.

Tags: naveen patnaik, mahanadi dispute, winter session
Location: India, Odisha, Bhubaneswar