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Naveen Patnaik hits back after PM slams Odisha govt for rejecting Ayushman Bharat scheme

By PTI
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    New Delhi, Sep 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday slammed Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for saying no to the Centre's flagship Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme and alleged that a "PC" (percentage commission) culture has become the state government's identity.

    Naveen Patnaik

    Patnaik, however, dismissed the corruption allegation, saying Modi must have said it to enthuse BJP workers.

    The war of words between Modi and Patnaik comes ahead of the Odisha assembly polls and general elections next year.

    Addressing two public meetings in Talcher and Jharsuguda, Modi spoke about the BJD government in Odisha rejecting the mega health insurance scheme and also lagging on Swachha Bharat campaign parameters.

    Stepping up his criticism of the Patnaik-led government, Modi alleged that a "PC" (percentage commission) culture and delaying decisions have become the identity of the Odisha government resulting in the state's tardy development.

    The prime minister said PC impacts implementation of housing and toilet schemes and other welfare projects.

    There have been allegations of corruption in sapling plantation, polythene packaging of milk, road construction and irrigation, he alleged. There are allegations of widespread corruption with involvement of people from the ruling party, Modi said, adding, "how can development take place under such a situation."

    Reacting to Modi's remarks, Patnaik said the Centre should rather think about the "scam" in the skill mission and Ujjwala schemes.

    "In fact, they should be thinking about their skill mission scam and Ujjwala scheme scam .. They should be considering that," the chief minister told reporters on returning from Jharsuguda, where he was with Modi at the inauguration of a new airport.

    The Centre should also seriously think about the record increase in prices of petrol and diesel because of which the people of the country are suffering, the BJD president said.

    On the Ayushman Bharat scheme, Patnaik said the state's scheme is better than the centre's as it covers an extra 50 lakh people and provides Rs 7 lakh to women as against Rs 5 lakh by the central programme.

    Similarly, an extra 25 lakh poor people are covered under the food security scheme in the state, he said.

    The Odisha government has not joined the central scheme and instead gone for Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana.

    Noting that rural cleanliness in Odisha was only 10 per cent in 2014, Prime Minister Modi said it has increased to 55 per cent but a lot more was needed to be done.

    "I had told Naveen ji about the importance of Swachhata and I once again request him to give cleanliness due importance," Modi said, adding, cleanliness is essential for good health.

    "Everyone is aware of the importance of Ayushman Bharat scheme, but Naveen babu does not understand. The Odisha government should come forward and join the programme," he said.

    The prime minister will launch the programme countrywide from Jharkhand on Sunday. The scheme aims to provide Rs 5 lakh health insurance coverage per family annually to more than 10 crore poor households.

    Claiming that the BJP-led NDA government has been supportive to Odisha, Modi said, "While the previous UPA government could allocate only Rs 80,000 crore, the NDA government on the other hand has given Rs 2 lakh crore in the last four years."

    However, the people of Odisha are not getting benefits from the central allocations at the ground level as the state has been "indifferent". Where is the central fund going, he asked.

    Modi said there was a need for "bade parivartan" (big change) to give pace to Odisha's development.

    Pointing towards a large crowd gathered at the BJP public meeting in Talcher, he said it "clearly showed" what the people of Odisha think.

    Targeting the Congress, Modi referred to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's famous remark that only 15 paisa out of a rupee sanctioned by the Centre for welfare of people reaches the intended beneficiaries.

    "They knew about the 'bimari' but had no vision to solve it," he said.

    The BJP government's decision to directly transfer money to the bank accounts of beneficiaries has curbed the practice of middlemen in implementation of welfare schemes, Modi said.

    "If our government releases Re 1, entire 100 paise reaches the poor," he said.

    Modi targeted the Opposition also for stalling the triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha.

    He said justice will be done to Muslim mothers and sisters.

    The ordinance on triple talaq has made the practice illegal and three days ago the Centre took a decision that was required for decades, Modi said.

    Accusing the previous UPA government of being responsible for closure of several industrial units, Modi said the BJP-led NDA government is taking concrete steps to revive closed plants.

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