By A K Sahoo
Bhubaneswar, April 18: With Special Category State (SCS) status demand plot lost after the recent remarks by Odisha planning and convergence minister Usha Devi’s reply in the state Assembly that the state does not deserve the tag; – the issue of Mahanadi water dispute now remains BJD’s the sole source of political sustenance.
The party has called for a “Mass Convention” on Mahanadi on April 22 to discuss the issue and prepare its future course of action.
On the other hand, the NDA government at the Centre, in an apparent move not allow much room to the BJD for over-politicking on the issue, – has on April 17 announced the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal (MWDT). It has handed over the ToR to the tribunal’s chairman and Supreme Court judge Justice A M Khanwilkar.
Union water resources secretary UP Singh handed over the ToR to the tribunal chairman in New Delhi.
After the NDA government started pumping in huge funds to the state for various schemes; the BJD Central negligence allegation had lost its steam and it was left with two issues – Special Category State status demand and Mahanadi water row – that it found effective arsenals to nail the Narendra Modi government to maintain its regional entity.
While the state does not merit to get SCS status as it is not a bordering state and nor an economically weaker province; the BJD leaders had deliberately generated a lot of commotion in the public by meticulous fanning it. Protest rallies were organised across the state alleging Centre was ignoring the “legitimate” claim of Odisha.
However, Minister Usha Devi told the Assembly on April 12, 2018 that: “Neither Odisha is bordering strategically with any foreign country nor its economy has become stagnant.”
The minister’s reply clearly exposed that the BJD government is just “pretending” even though it is aware that it does not meet the criteria.
Acting in politics is good, but over-acting does not get much benefits; rather disastrous consequences.
On Mahanadi issue, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had earlier written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging for ToR for the tribunal. Going a step further, the BJD lawmaker on April 13 had stalled the proceedings of the Assembly protesting against the delay in giving the terms of reference of the tribunal.
The Mahanadi water dispute tribunal has been constituted on March 12, 2018 on the direction of the Supreme Court to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Now, the tribunal has got the ToR.
Decency demands the tribunal gets required cooperation from both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments to arrive at an amicable solution. Now, all eyes are focused on the BJD’s April 22 Chhattisgarh or Mass Convention. Sources in the BJD say the party president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik would announce a month-long campaign programme on the very day.
All arrangements have been made for the mass convention. It’s unlikely the BJD would put off or call off the proposed programme. Nonetheless, it would be quite interesting to see what it pronounces at the event.
Political observers believe the BJD might interpret the ToR in its own way to find holes in it which would at least provide some extra fodder to keep the issue alive until the next 2019 elections.