New Delhi: BJD leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday said he wanted more time to decide on joining ‘Mahagathbandhan’, the grand alliance of opposition parties, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. “As far as Mahagathbandhan is concerned, we will take some time and think it over,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Mr Patnaik was in the national capital to participate in a farmers’ protest held by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for its demand to fix Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy at Rs. 2,930 per quintal from the current Rs. 1,750.
A 12-member delegation led by Mr Patnaik will meet President Ram Nath Kovind in this regard.
Addressing the gathering of farmers, Mr Patnaik came down heavily on the Modi government for failing to fulfil the promises made before the 2014 general elections.
“The Centre cannot run away from providing (adequate) MSP as it is its responsibility. It has not responded to our demands despite several reminders,” he said.
At the protest march, many BJD leaders took a dig at the Modi government calling it “jumlebaazi ki Sarkar” (government of fake promises).
The BJD has so far maintained equidistance from both the BJP and Congress.
Mr Patnaik said his government has brought Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme, which will provide financial, livelihood and cultivation support along with insurance support to small, marginal and landless farmers, thus covering 92 per cent of the total farmers in the state.
The Odisha government had spent about Rs. 30,000 crore on agriculture in the past four and a half years and had earmarked Rs. 10,000 crore for the KALIA scheme to spend in three years, he said.