Blame game in Odisha over Rajan panel report

Bhubaneswar, Sep 26 (IANS) The Raghuram Rajan panel report submitted to the central government on criteria for special category status Thursday triggered a blame game in Odisha.

The state's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) said it was not satisfied and would continue its agitation seeking special category status for Odisha while the opposition Congress welcomed the report and said the state would benefit.

"The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government and the Congress leaders gave the impression that the Raghuram Rajan committee will address this issue. Unfortunately, we find while Odisha has been categorised as a least-developed state, the special category status has not been accorded to us," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters here.

He said his party would continue its fight until the goal was achieved.

State Panchayati Raj Minister Kalpataru Das said the central government had always neglected Odisha. "The new formula to states like Odisha is a 'lollipop'," he said.

The Congress however said justice was done to the state.

State Congress president Jayadev Jena said the report would help Odisha to get more funds from the central government.

"Since Odisha is enlisted as a least-developed state, it will get more funds from the central government," he told reporters.

Bharatiya Janata Party's state vice president Jual Oram, however, slammed the report and said the state would not benefit from the report.

Odisha politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations, had in the past demanded a special category status for the state.

The Rajan committee was asked to suggest methods for identifying backwardness of states using a variety of criteria and also to recommend how that might be reflected in future planning and devolution of funds from the central government to the states.

In its report, submitted to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, the panel suggested doing away with the "Special Category" criterion for providing additional assistance to poorer states.

Instead, it proposed a general method for allocating funds from the central government based on both state's development needs as well as development performance.

The committee recommended each state might get a fixed basic allocation of 0.3 percent of overall funds, to which would be added its share stemming from need and performance to get its overall share.

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