Bargarh (Odisha) [India], December 3 (ANI): Ahead of the Padampur bypoll, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday slammed the BJP-led Centre for imposing 18 per cent GST on Kendu leaf trade, saying the BJP leaders are shedding "crocodile tears" for farmers and are misleading the people for political purposes.
The Biju Janta Dal president was addressing a public meeting in poll-bound Padampur for party candidate Barsha Singh Bariha.
In his address, Patnaik said, "Odisha is the first in the country to provide bonus to Kendu leaf pluckers and employees. Recently, bonuses of Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 have been given in the first phase. All of you are included in Biju Swasth Kalyan Yojana and steps are being taken for better education and development of children."
"This is unfortunate that the central government has imposed 18 per cent GST on Kendu leaf trade and only 3 per cent on gold. Gold traders pay only 3 per cent but poor tribal Kendu leaf pluckers have to pay 18 per cent. BJP leaders are shedding crocodile tears for Kendu leaf pluckers, farmers and others. I am fighting for your rights from village to Delhi," he said.
The Odisha CM said the crop insurance of Padampur farmers was pending for nearly 18 months. When the aggrieved farmers stopped the candidate from filing the nomination paper for the bypoll, then the central government woke up from sleep and released the funds within 48 hours, he said. "Still many farmers of Padampur have not received the insurance amount. We are fighting and will fight to provide them their right," he said.
Accusing the BJP of indulging in politics over Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (MPAY), Patnaik said the central government has deprived the poor from getting houses by stopping the allocation just for political purposes. He said 25,000 people in Padampur have been deprived of houses. The Chief Minister said If the central government "unfairly closes" the Awas scheme, the state government will provide the housing.
"In Padampur, Union Ministers are saying they will work on the railway line if the Odisha government gives land. I want to ask the Union Ministers, have they done a survey of how much land is needed in which village? Has the DPR been done? And have they applied to the state government for land acquisition?" Patnaik questioned.
Patnaik added that his party is resolved to fight for the rights of Kendu leaf pluckers, farmers, tribals and women and promised speedy development of Padampur and nearby regions.
The Padampur bye-election will be held on December 5 and the results are scheduled to be declared on December 8.
The BJP fielded Pradip Purohit as its candidate for the upcoming bye-election to the Padampur Assembly Constituency in Odisha's Bargarh district.
The ruling BJD has fielded late party MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha's daughter Barsha Singh Bariha in the Padampur assembly seat bypoll.
The Padampur bypoll was necessitated following the demise of sitting BJD MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha on October 3. (ANI)