Cong accuses BJD of treason, demands minister's resignation

Cong accuses BJD of treason, demands minister's resignation

Accusing the ruling BJD in Odisha of treason, Congress today demanded resignation of state revenue and disaster management minister S N Patro who slammed the UPA government and said only Rs 250 crore was released for the victims of cyclone Phailin by the Centre.

The issue was raised in the Assembly during zero hour when Patro criticised the Congress-led UPA government saying it had released only Rs 250 crore as assistance for the cyclone victims against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement of Rs 1,000 crore as advance for the state.

Patro's statement was immediately challenged by Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan who claimed though the Centre had already released Rs 1,000 crore for the cyclone victims, Odisha's BJD government deliberately misled the House as well as the people by suppressing facts.

Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat had to adjourn the House several times after agitating Opposition members trooped in the Well, raising slogans and demanding Patro's resignation.

When the House reassembled at 3.40 pm, the Congress members preferred to remain in the Well and did not participate in the debate on the Appropriation Bill. The Bill was passed amidst pandemonium.

Patro, however, in a statement in the House clarified that the Centre had released Rs 750 crore from the NDRF (National Disaster Response Fund) in two instalments and his department was not aware about the release of the second lot.

"I came to know about receipt of Rs 500 crore from NDRF today after the opposition members made the claim. In this context, I amend my earlier statement," he said.
The minister clarified the state has so far received a total of Rs 750 crore from the NDRF.
However, Harichandan claimed the state has already received Rs 1,000 crore, Rs 750 crore from the NDRF and Rs 250 crore from the SDRF.

As the minister admitted of receiving Rs 750 crore, Opposition members demanded an apology from him for misleading the House and his resignation for "betraying" the people of the state, particularly the calamity victims.

Angry Congress MLAs, who also staged a dharna near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Assembly premises, also accused the ruling BJD of "treason."

"As this government has been instigating the people of Odisha against the Central government, it must be treated as an act of treason," Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh told reporters after the House was adjourned.

Since the BJD had launched a campaign against the Centre, it should be treated as a treason, Singh said giving details of the funds released for the cyclone and flood victims.
"The first instalment of Rs 250 crore was released on November 29, the day on which BJD MLAs created a pandemonium in the Assembly. The next phase of funds worth Rs 500 crore was released on December 3," Singh pointed out, adding the Centre had also released Rs 250 crore from the SDRF.

While the Centre released its share of Rs 169.99 crore from SDRF for 2013-14, it also released Rs 80.01 crore as advance, Singh said, adding the amount was Rs 250 crore under the SDRF head.

Wondering that the minister was not aware of the release of funds though Rs 500 crore was transferred to the state's account on December 3, 2013, Singh said the state government's intention was clearly exposed.

"They deliberately suppressed acceptance of Rs 1,000 crore just to create an anti-Centre sentiment among the people of the state," he said.

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