Bhubaneswar: Questioning the Centre's intentions of revisiting the criteria for according special category status to states, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday wondered whether it was a kind of political bargaining by the UPA government.
"If the Centre is indeed keen on revisiting the criteria for special category status, why is it not doing so immediately," he asked while moving a motion seeking passage of a resolution in the assembly to declare Odisha as a special category state.
As leader of the House, Patnaik moved the motion and urged members to unanimously support it to request the central government to declare Odisha as a special category state.
He also raised questions on the manner in which the Centre dealt with the issue of special category state.
"What is the necessity of making a budget statement one day and then following up with announcement about one state on one day and another state after a week? Is it not sheer political bargaining," he asked.
Making a strong plea for Odisha's demand of special category status, he said the state's real per capita income had increased to 70 percent of national average in 2010-11. "This implies the state may take, at this rate, at least three decades to catch up with national average," he said.
Terming special category status demand as the 'legitimate claim' of Odisha, Patnaik said he had earlier urged the National Development Council to revisit and redefine the criteria for according such status to a state and that less developed states should be given special dispensation.
Noting that the demand of Odisha for special category status was very old and fully justified, he said the state for the first time made such a demand at the National Development Council (NDC) in 1979 and the effort continued in 1990s.
"Both 10th and 11th Odisha Legislative Assemblies adopted unanimous resolutions urging government of India to declare Odisha as a special category state," he pointed out, adding his government since 2001 had been pursing with the Centre for according the special category state status.