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Wednesday, February 28, 2001

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BJD MPs want to withdraw support to Govt.

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 27. The parliamentary party of the Biju Janata Dal today adopted a unanimous resolution recommending that the party president and Orissa Chief Minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik, consider withdrawing party support to the National Democratic Alliance Government since the NDA was not willing to listen to the State's voice.

Apparently, 11 of the 13 MPs of the BJD - 10 in the Lok Sabha and 3 in the Rajya Sabha - including the Minister, Mr. Arjun Sethi, were present. The two who did not attend were out of Delhi, a MP said. They decided that the resolution be sent to the party president.

This move is being seen more as a measure of the BJD anger against the neglect of the party MPs and the State's interests by the Vajpayee Government. At first, the ire built up over discrimination against Orissa in the matter of aid after the 1999 supercyclone. Still they took it in their stride, taking at face value the Government's repeated statements that there were no funds to disburse.

But the January 26 earthquake, which magically opened the purse- strings of the Centre, was an eye- opener and the BJD MPs realised that the Centre had not done to Orissa even a fraction of what it did to Gujarat.

This seething resentment was aggravated by the Railway Budget, which seemed to have forgotten Orissa altogether. What angered the BJD MPs was that even the opposition-ruled Bihar got a better deal because of the BJP's political interest there. With Orissa almost at the bottom of the heap in terms of development, the party MPs are not amused that despite the BJD being an ally at the Centre, the State's interests are being completely ignored.

The Akali Dal with a negligible presence is able to have its way; so also does the Telugu Desam, which is only supporting the Government from outside. And the Trinamool Congress also gets what it wants. So why not the BJD?

The least the MPs expect is that Mr. Patnaik will personally take up the issue with the Prime Minister.

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