Union minister Smriti Irani on Sunday accused Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of depriving the people of the state from the benefits of central schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, “on political consideration”.
About the fuel price issue, she said even as the NDA government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has slashed fuel prices by Rs 2.50 per litre, Naveen Patnaik was not ready to reduce state tax for giving relief to the people.
Addressing a BJP state executive meeting in Bhubaneswar, the Union textiles minister said, “Naveen Patnaik has deprived the people of Odisha from the benefits of Ayushman Bharat scheme on political consideration.”
Justifying her allegation, Ms Irani told reporters that Mr Patnaik “rejected” the Ayushman Bharat scheme despite the fact that over 60 per cent of Odisha’s women and children suffer from anemia and the state ranks number one in birth of stunted children.
Despite of the health scenario in the state, Naveen Patnaik preferred to reject the Ayushman Bharat scheme, Ms Irani said, adding, “The poor people are now raising question why they should not avail the benefits of the central scheme.”
Claiming that atrocities against women have been increasing in the state by the day, she said, “The BJD government has failed to maintain law and order in the state and provide protection to women and girls.”
On the BJP’s agenda of securing more than 120 of the total 147 seats in the Odisha Assembly, Smriti Irani said, “The BJP’s Mission 120 plus is not just about securing power in the state, it also aims to raise public awareness on issues of women atrocities, unemployment, corruption.”
The Union textiles minister said some BJP workers, during the state executive meeting, drew her attention to a proposal to revive the Odisha Textile Mills (OTM).
“Yes, the OTM can be revived, but the state government should take initiative towards this direction. The Centre will certainly extend a helping hand,” she said, adding that 50 per cent of the workers in Tirupur textile cluster in Tamil Nadu hailed from Odisha.
“If Odisha women and girls can make Tirupur Textile cluster successful, why cannot they do it in their state?” Ms Irani asked.
Reacting to Smriti Irani’s allegation, the spokesman of the ruling BJD, Sasmit Patra, said “The BJP is afraid of Odisha government’s Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. The BSKY offers better facilities than the Ayushman Bharat scheme.”
About Smriti Irani’s claim about rise in the atrocities against women in Odisha, the BJD spokesman said, “The Union minister should first say how safe women are in BJP-ruled states.”
On fuel price issue, Sasmit Patra said, “The BJP government announced reduction of fuel price by Rs 2.50 per litre keeping in view the elections in five states. They (BJP) are not worried about the people.”