Odisha CM hits at Centre, says ‘BJP shedding crocodile tears’

BARGARH: Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha slammed the BJP-led Centre for imposing an 18% GST on the trade of kendu leaves ahead of the Padampur byelection, claiming the BJP leaders are crying "crocodile tears" for farmers and misleading the public for political gain.

Addressing a public meeting in poll-bound Padampur for party candidate Barsha Singh Bariha, the Chief Minister said "Odisha is the first state in the nation to pay bonuses to employees and Kendu leaf pickers. Recently, the first phase of bonuses worth Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 was awarded. The Biju Swasth Kalyan Yojana includes all of you, and actions are being taken to improve child development and education."

"It is regrettable that the central government has only placed a 3 percent GST on gold and an 18 percent GST on the trade in kendu leaves. While poor tribal Kendu leaf pickers must pay 18%, gold traders merely pay 3%. Leaders of the BJP are sobbing crocodile tears for farmers, Kendu leaf pickers, and other people. From the village to Delhi, I am fighting for your rights " he said.

He also said, Padampur farmers' crop insurance claims have been languishing for about 18 months. The central government to woke up from its slumber and immediately supplied the cash when the resentful farmers prevented the candidate from submitting his nomination papers for the bypoll. "Many Padampur farmers have still not received their insurance payout. We are and will continue to fight for their rights " he added.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (MPAY) has been stopped by the national government for political reasons, Patnaik claimed, accusing the BJP of playing politics with the programme. He claimed that 25,000 people in Padampur are now without homes. The Chief Minister remarked that if the federal "unfairly "closes the Awas project, the houses will be provided by the state government. If the Odisha government grants land, Union Ministers in Padampur said they will begin construction on the railway line. Have the Union Ministers conducted a survey to determine how much land is required in each village? Was the DPR completed? And have they submitted a land purchase application to the state government?" Patnaik questioned.

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