Ruling Biju Janata Dal activists burnt an effigy of Union Minister V K Singh today, a day after the latter’s remark on Odisha’s demand for special category status. The activists lead by BJD MLA Sanjay Dasburma staged a demonstration before the Raj Bhavan here and submitted a memorandum to the president through Odisha Governor S C Jamir. Shouting anti-BJP slogans, they demanded that the union minister of state for external affairs withdraw his statement and demanded an apology from him. “We condemn the remarks of V K Singh and demand his apology. The BJP in its poll manifesto had promised to accord special category status to Odisha. However, Singh’s statement has exposed the real motive of the party,” Das Burma said.
The BJD leaders said that Odhsia has been demanding the special category status since 1979. Chief Minister Patnaik during his 17-year rule has raised the issue in different forums including at the National Development Council meeting. Beside the state assembly, all the elected bodies like panchayats, zilla parishad and urban bodies have passed resolutions seeking special category state staus. A signature campaign by one crore people of the state urged the Centre to accord special category status ton Odisha in 2013. Dasburma said the state has 22.8 per cent tribal population against only 8.6 per cent of population in the national average. Besides, the KBK region comprising 8 districts remain the most backward districts of the country. All these make Odisha suitable for the special category status even as the state has been making progress in certain sectors, they said.
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“In this background, we are surprised to hear union minister V K Singh’s statement rejecting the long standing demand of Odisha for special category status. Without examining our demands, how did Singh say that special category status is not required for Odisha?,” the BJD said in the memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee.