Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday criticised the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-led government in Odisha for failing to use central funds appropriately for the development of the region, and appealed to the people to vote judiciously.
"The UPA Government allocated thousands of crores of rupees under MGNREGA so that people could have jobs here and would not have had to go elsewhere in search of a job. The fact is that the present government in the state is involved in corruption and has siphoned off crores of rupees under this programme which the Supreme Court is probing. The same thing happened in the mid-day meal scheme where crores of money were swindled," Sonia said.
She attacked the state governments like Odisha for not sincerely implementing these programmes.
"The CAG report has stated that money allocated for the BPL segment could not benefit the targetted sections, as there was corruption on that issue as well. A committee has found that crores of money were looted from a mine itself in Odisha,and there were reports of more such cases coming from other mines as well and now you can well imagine that if you add all of the losses then the amount would run in several lakhs and crores. This goes to show as to why the state cannot develop even having natural resources. Even, the state government is not effective in handling those who are involved in chit-fund scam. In Indira Gandhi Pension Scheme, our government had allocated loads of money but government failed to distribute it properly," Gandhi said.
She claimed the Congress had always been working sincerely for the rural population and a host of programmes, including the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, have been launched by the UPA Government to substantially improve the living conditions of villagers," she added.
"Our government had allocated the highest amount for this state for your development which were never allocated by any other government. If you compare between the NDA and the UPA then you will realize the difference. Congress has always worked for the common man like the Dalits, Adivasi, poor and backward people. Our motto is to better the condition of common people, and this has been mentioned at length in our manifesto as we do not believe in making false or hollow promises," Sonia added.
She also talked about the central government's Land Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act which has ensured land ownership for both tribals and Dalits.
"Now, because of the new act, we have ensured that you do not lose your land without getting appropriate remuneration and resettlement and only then it could be purchased," Sonia said.
Congress president also outlined policies which were created to benefit the girl students could not be utlised by the state government properly.
"We want our girls to become self sufficient and in that process we have given scholarships which are your rights but the state government hasn't shown any interest at all. Women from this state are facing enormous hardships and mistreatment," Sonia added.
She outlined that several new welfare promises have been taken up in Congress' manifesto and therefore it was upon the people to not come under any influence of any party which makes promises and then go back on them once the elections are over.
"We have made a promise in our manifesto that we will provide you free health care and all the expenses will be borne by the government. We also plan to give you a proper shelter as we understand that many of you do not have," Sonia said.
"All I want to say is that our nation is passing through testing times and hence you will have to decide your future very carefully. There are people who make pledges and make false promises during elections and then they turn back. You should not come under any influence of any party whose main aim is to seek power. Hence, you must elect our representatives in the coming assembly elections in Odisha and also for the Lok Sabha elections," Sonia added.