Funds for schemes in Odisha do not reach beneficiaries: Rahul Gandhi
Salipur (Odisha): Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday hit back at Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for calling the national party 'corrupt', saying it is BJD which is responsible for a series of scams in the state.
"The funds given to Odisha for welfare schemes do not reach beneficiaries. Most of the money is being misappropriated mid way," Gandhi said during a Congress rally at Bhatapada village near Salipur town in Cuttack district.
"There has been massive loot of iron ore and manganese from the state. A handful of people have been benefited from the mining loot while people are suffering here," he said. Patnaik had termed Congress as "corrupt" and BJP as "communal" during a programme held to celebrate the foundation day of his party on December 26 last year.
"Your money earned from coal, iron ore, manganese and different minerals are going to others' pockets, while the state government is unable to run schools and hospitals. About 3,500 farmers have committed suicide in Odisha and above 10 lakh youths could not be given employment," he said and urged the people to "oust the BJD government to ensure a speedy development of the state".
Referring to the Rangarajan Committee report, Rahul Gandhi said Odisha tops the list of undeveloped states in the country though it has rich reserves of minerals and a long coastline. "While Odisha is amir (rich), its people are garib (poor)," he said, adding Centre's funds to the state were being diverted and misappropriated.
Attacking BJD over frequent complaints of "central negligence", he claimed the UPA government at the Centre had provided maximum funds for the state's development. "No previous government had ever given such a huge amount of money for the state. I am told Rs 5,000 crore is still lying unspent here," he said.
Alleging that BJD government had failed to implement welfare schemes, he said though the Centre allots money to the state for mid-day-meal scheme, "the funds go to fill others' bellies."
"This government has even diverted the rice meant for BPL families," he alleged, adding the benefits do not reach the people because of corruption and misutilisation of funds by it. Referring to the left wing extremism in Odisha, he said 22 of the state's 30 districts are hit by it and held lack of development for the situation.
He also referred to the ponzi scheme scam in the state in which 20 lakh investors were duped by different chit fund companies and alleged that the state government did not take any action against them.
Gandhi asked the state Congress leadership and party workers to fight for the rights of tribals, dalits and other weaker sections of people and said he had himself fought for the rights of Dangaria Kandhas and saved Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi-Rayagada district.
The people will get their due benefits if they vote for Congress and oust BJD, he added. Earlier in the day, Gandhi held his first roadshow in the state, travelling 50 km from Bhubaneswar to here on the first day of his two-day Odisha visit.
"They did not utilise Rs 5,000 crore...and then they say Centre does not provide funds," Rahul Gandhi said. "The corrupt government here loots your money. Fight with them and win. Bring a government of poor, dalits and tribals here. This is your money which is being looted from you.
Get that money to people and utilise it for development works, for running schools, hospitals," he said. Through right to food, the government at the Centre has ensured that every family of the country gets guaranteed meal irrespective of their religion or caste, Rahul said.
"The biggest fight that we fought was for Niyamgiri. We fought for the rights of tribals and ensured that their land is given back to them. We have to fight this in Odihsa. This is a rich state, but the people are poor.
Congress has to fight for the rights of tribals, dalits, common people and the backward," he added. Gandhi said he has asked his party members to visit every village and fight corruption, fight for poor people, tribals and backward.