State-centric economic policy is our agenda, says Mahtab

A. M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on August 04, 2013 Published on August 04, 2013

Bartuhari Mahtab

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a prominent regional party from Odisha, has been maintaining equi-distance from both the Congress and the BJP for the last four and a half years.

The party was in the forefront in Parliament and outside in the efforts to carve out a front of regional parties against both the Congress and the BJP.

Senior BJD leader and Lok Sabha MP, Bhartruhari Mahtab, told Business Line that regional parties have begun efforts to draft a State-centric economic policy. Excerpts from the interview:

The BJP is projecting Narendra Modi as their leader, while the Congress is backing Rahul Gandhi as their face for 2014. How do you see the chances of regional parties against these two big parties in 2014?

Modi and Rahul Gandhi are poster boys of these two parties.

Their influence outside their own political outfits is not clear.

But, one thing is clear, the Congress and the BJP are going to lose their base in the next elections.

The National Democratic Alliance is not the old NDA and the United Progressive Alliance is not the old UPA. They have lost their key allies.

In 2014, both the big parties together will not bag more than 200 seats. So, there will be a vacuum, which will be filled by regional parties.

Regional parties can build a formidable alternative based on alternate policies.

Can regional parties project an alterative policy in governance, economy and administration?

Yes. I think formulating a specific economic policy will be the agenda for the 2014 elections. Restructuring financial distribution and decentralising the powers of the Centre will be the key programmes.

The Centre should not behave like a money-lender. Since the Second Plan, States have had to bear the brunt of the Centre’s policy decisions. This system has to change, which will be possible only when regional parties form a Government at the Centre.

What is your view on the Food Security Bill, which will come up in the Monsoon Session?

We have certain reservations on its implementation. The Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe families, which are getting rice for Rs 1 a kg, will not be getting this support once the Bill comes into effect. So, from our side, we have been saying that all those families should continue to get this support.

Another issue is the delivery mechanism. The delivery of foodgrains is with the State. Not only will the quantity be less now, stocking of foodgrains and ensuring its availability will be a problem. The (UPA) Government has not done its homework properly. It should have taken the State administrations into confidence. We had raised these points in earlier discussions. But the Centre did not consider these.

Odisha is facing a number of problems in the area of land acquisition. Will the new Land Acquisition Bill be able to address those issues?

No. We have certain reservations with the provision that private parties can directly acquire land.

Earlier, States were acquiring land for industries. Now, it’s the responsibility of industries. With the new Bill, the State’s role will become very limited. This will give scope for exploitation.

It will not facilitate growth of industry and will work as a deterrent. This will intensify the problems, particularly of tribals and forest dwellers.


Published on August 04, 2013
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