Sunday, March 29, 2009

Orissa as a special catagory state

The Pioneer, March 30, 2009

While inducting former State Youth Congress president Rohit Pujari into his party, BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik said last week how national parties like the Congress and the BJP are not interested in making Orissa a special category State for speedier economic development. It is strange such a realisation has come to him after a decade of his association with the BJP during half of which the saffron party was in power at the Centre. The timing of airing such realisation is undoubtedly self-serving. It is to hammer home his oft-repeated point that only a regional party like the BJD can do justice to the State. But the hollowness of his line of thinking is self-evident. See what happened to the special treatment given by the Central Government for the development of the KBK districts. Selected as a test-bed for economic regeneration by no less a person than PV Narasimha Rao, the former Prime Minister, the districts were smothered with wheel-barrow loads of cash. Though it is difficult to get the exact amount of money that was pump-primed into that area, it can be safely said that not less than Rs 1700 crore of special assistance was spent there during the ten year period from 1997 to 2007. But, economically, the districts remain where they were before the start of the grandiose development plan. If Patnaik wants a similar economic uplift to be replicated throughout the State through his demand for special category status, then the State is economically doomed for all time to come. Funds are not a problem. The problem is commitment to development and a corruption-free administration. Demand for special category status is a political slogan disguising as an economic catchphrase. And again, not much of a disguise, at that!

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