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Why Naveen Patnaik is expected to win 125 seats in State Assembly & sweep Lok Sabha Polls in Odisha

By Satya Narayana Sahu | PUBLISHED: 21, May 2019, 18:27 pm IST | UPDATED: 22, May 2019, 15:13 pm IST

Why Naveen Patnaik is expected to win 125 seats in State Assembly & sweep Lok Sabha Polls in Odisha

One of the exit polls conducted in Odisha predicted that BJD under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik is expected to get 125 seats in the State Assembly exceeding its tally of 117 which was secured by the party in 2014. Another exit poll predicts 115 seats for BJD.

Higher Growth, welfare policies, exemplary leadership in saving human life from natural disasters and women’s empowerment - mainstay of politics

Even though exit polls do not give any reasoning for their predictions it is fascinating to explore the reasons behind forecast that 125 seats would be won by BJD in the Assembly.Let us peep into the contents of an old article titled “Naveen Patnaik: : The man who transformed Odisha”. It was authored by Kunal Pradhan and published in Tehelka magazine in December 2013. Giving an insightful outline of the progress and developmentregistered by Odisha under the able leadership of Shri Patnaik he wrote the following para in that article.

“Once in the news mainly for hunger, poverty and starvation deaths, Odisha is now one of the most steadily growing states in the country. Its economy has grown at an average rate of 9 per cent a year in real terms from 2000 to 2012 as opposed to about 3 per cent from 1951 to 2000. Poverty has been brought down more than 30 per cent from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 37 per cent in 2009-10. According to the latest data released by the Reserve Bank of India, the state is the most preferred investment destination for new projects with its financial closure for projects  amounting to 27 per cent of all new investments in India.”

That growth story the vivid account of which was captured in that article firmly established the leadership of Shri Patnaik as a torch bearer of progress and he expanded the growth by integrating with it numerous welfare measures for ordinary people who are not Government servants and income tax payees. Mamata scheme for women or slew of other measures entailing anganvadi education, free uniforms, free primary education, free bicycles for all tribal and girl students of high school and scholarships and lap tops for meritorious students have put ordinary people at the centre stage not only as beneficiaries but as agents of change and progress. These have created conditions for producing quality human resources whoare entitled to have access to opportunities which would develop their inherent faculties and empower them. It is empowerment of people as an article of faith and not as part of electoral strategy that has endeared Patnaik and BJD to people beyond measure.

The proven leadership in ensuring empowerment of people has resulted in development manifested in statistics which unlike the statistics of the Union Government are not fudged or manipulated but are celebrated. Behind the numbers and statistics representing growth in Odisha there is substantial human centric development which can be understood by employing the academic insights ofprofessor Amartya Sen who saw and interpreted development as freedom and his book bearing the title “Development as Freedom” is worthy of reflection in the context of Odisha.

Kunal Pradhan’s article of 2013 while encapsulating all those points also highlighted the exemplary leadership of Naveen Patnaik in saving human lives when natural disaster Phailin struck the State in 2013 and observed “the State earned its reputation for managing crises”.

Then Shri Kunal observed, “the two most popular initiatives of the Odisha government are on women's employment and affordable food. Mission Shakti, launched in 2001, promotes women's self-help groups to improve their livelihood. By the end of 2010-11, 457,000 such groups had been formed with a staggering 5.48 million members. A public distribution system was launched in August 2008 which provides rice to 5.6 million people at Rs 2 per kg.”

Of course rice is now available to the poor and underprivileged for Re.1 per kg. It is the sensitive indicator of food security in the State.

Based on all such developments the State of Odisha is essaying a fascinating saga of ensuring human security. If it is juxtaposed with the historical context of Odisha society marked by recurrent man mad disasters like famines in pre independent India due to absence of accountability of the British Government and the persistence of poverty, low human developmentindices and increasing ferocity of natural calamities in post independence period,then we understand the depth and magnitude of progress registered by Odisha in twenty first century under the leadership of Shri Naveen Patnaik.

It is instructive to recall that Shri Kunal in 2013 had predicted in his article that given the excellent track record of governance of Shri Naveen Patnaik BJD in 2014 would do better both in the Assembly and Parliamentary elections and improve its performance of 2009. He wrote,“In 2009, BJD won 14 of 21 LokSabha seats and 108 of 147 seats in the state Assembly. Both tallies are expected to rise”.

Women’s Empowerment and Benefit for Farmers’ welfare will produce stunning results

Indeed in 2014 the tallies rose and BJD got 117 seats out of 147 in Assemblyand 20 out of 21 seats in Lok Sabha. Such splendid performance stunned the nation and defied the trend at the national level marked by massive victory of BJP under the leadership of ShriNarendra Modi who assumed the office of Prime Minister with a clear majority for his party. When predictions were made in 2013 that tallies would increase because, among other factors, the most popular initiative concerning women’s empowerment, the self help groups, were almost half a million in number and had 5.48 million women in their rolls.

In 2019 the number of women’s self groups have risen to seven hundred thousand, more than half a million, and the numberof women enrolled in them are a staggering 7 million. Added to it is the path breaking decision of Shri Naveen Patnaik to field women candidates from BJD in 33 per cent of Lok Sabha seats in the State. It was an unprecedented and epoch making decision in history of India. Besides, there has been firm reinforcement of the leadership of the State in saving human lives when verysevere cyclones like Titli and Hudhud ravaged the State and Odisha got approbation at the national and global level for creating new records of excellence in governance in world historyfor shifting in a very short time more than a million people to safe places andsaving their lives in face of a near certain  death. It was done by using the human , financials and material resources at the disposal of the State without hardly any dependence on external sources.

The KALIA Scheme (Krushhak Assistance, livelihood and Income Augmentation), meant for benefiting farmers by directly transferring money to their account was not allowed to be implemented by the Election Commission citing the ground that it would contravene model code of conduct. Chief Minister Shri Patnaik personally met the Chief Electoral Officerof the State on that issue and assured people in several of his election speeches that none could stop that scheme as long as as he was there. It is strange that the same Election Commission allowed implementation of Krishak Samman programme of the Union Government which was implemented much after the KALIA scheme.

If the track of governance of Shri Patnaik in 2013 led Shri Kunal to predict that he and his BJD party would improve in 2014 its tally of 2009 for Assembly and Parliament, then one can safely say that the vastly improved track record of governance since 2014 which, among others, include expansion of self help groups for women , with a massive seven million of them as members would secure for BJD an incredible result in 2019 elections as predicted by Pragatibadi exit poll- 125 seats for Assembly. One can even say that it is likely that BJD would sweep Lok Sabha elections as well.

Equi distance from Congress and BJP

With such possible spectacular results one can recall Shri Naveen Patnaik who said in 2013 that “The BJD is equidistant from Congress and BJP. It's too early to talk about post-election scenarios but I've always considered the third front as a healthy alternative,

" What he said in 2013 is valid for 2019 when the State is waiting for election results.

  • The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure as Director in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. His views are in his personal capacity.
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