Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday strongly protested the Election Commission of India's decision to stop disbursement of funds to farmers under Odisha government's Kalia scheme and lodged a complaint at the office of Chief Election Officer in Bhubaneswar.
Patnaik along with senior leaders of the ruling BJD met Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar to vent their displeasure over the ECI's act. This is the first time that any Chief Minister of Odisha visited office of the CEO to lodge a complaint.
Patnaik said the ECI has stopped the fund disbursement under Kalia scheme in the name of Model Code of Conduct (MCC), but alleged that it allowed the PM-KISAN to operate without any hindrance.
"It is unfortunate that they (ECI) have not stopped the agricultural scheme of the Central government," Patnaik told reporters after meeting the CEO.
"I had come to see the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) about (lodging) a strong complaint of the election office of stopping our governments Kalia scheme for the farmers," Patnaik said.
Patnaik justified his protest and said that the Kalia (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme is important for farmers particularly during this season when they require those funds desperately.
"I am also very disappointed to see that BJP had complained to the EC about the Kalia scheme," Patnaik said adding, "the farmers will give them a befitting reply".
Earlier also, the BJD had submitted a memorandum with the CEO in Bhubaneswar and ECI in New Delhi alleging that the state governments direct transfer benefit scheme for agricultural sector was not allowed to be implemented due to the MCC, while no such restrictions were put on the Centres Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan).
As per the practice, the financial assistance under the Kalia scheme should have been disbursed among farmers by March 31, 2019, but the CEO under pressure from BJP has stopped the release of the money citing model code of conduct, alleged BJD spokesman Sasmit Patra.
While demanding revoke of restriction on the Kalia scheme, the BJD argued that the process of selection of beneficiaries had been completed on March 1, much before the MCC came into force.