On May 21, a day coinciding with four years of Naveen Patnaik led BJD’s fourth term in Odisha, the chief minister chose to detail his government’s achievements. It was on the same day back in 2014 that the people reaffirmed their fealty to the BJD, endowing it with its highest ever electoral tally of 117 seats.
In his address to his Council of Ministers, Naveen showering his gratitude to the people of Odisha, said it was time to appraise his government’s achievements. It was the ideal moment to showcase what the BJD led government has done for the people who have voted the party to power on a trot in the last four hustings. While it seemed justified for a government to list its achievements after four years, political commentators have read into the strategy behind Naveen’s contrived review. The ploy here is to counter Narendra Modi’s blitzkrieg. The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Cuttack on May 26 and address a huge rally from the ramparts of the historic Barabati fort in the millennial city.
After being thwarted by the Opposition strategically in Karnataka, BJP’s next focus looks to be Odisha. Modi will be making a frenzied attempt to sell his government’s achievements to people of Odisha besides dangling out promises for the future. The choice of the Bali Jatra ground set in the backdrop of the Barabati fort is also strategically timed. BJP’s gameplan here is to woo voters in Odisha by reprising its historical and cultural legacy, a strategy that earned the saffron party huge electoral dividends in Assam.
After conquering the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, this is slated be Modi’s sixth visit to Odisha. Modi, too, would be waxing eloquent on his government’s achievements in four years of power. He is also expected to fault the BJD government for its lapses and question the merit of its uninterrupted 18-year rule. The state unit of the BJP has already unveiled a chargesheet of 36 scams straddling 18 years of Naveen Patnaik’s regime including mining scam, chit fund scandal, PC scam on a spate of corruption cases and so on. The BJP fired its salvo when the BJD was celebrating its four years of rule.
But, the BJD appeared unruffled by the BJP’s charges. Listing out his government’s achievements, Naveen said 17 lakh pucca houses have been built for the people and the balance seven lakh units are expected to be completed by March 5 next year, coinciding with the birth anniversary of iconic statesman and former chief minister Biju Patnaik. Naveen went on to elucidate about his government’s colossal land entitlement scheme for 10 lakh urban dwellers. Under Naveen’s stewardship, farmers’ income has doubled in the last 10 years. Plans are afoot to bring an additional 7 lakh hectares of land under irrigation by April 2019. In an unusual gesture, Naveen held an unprecedented meeting with the secretaries of all departments. The chief minister gave the babus a pep talk to make administration and governance responsive and more people centric. He solicited suggestions from bureaucrats to improve quality of governance, building on their experiences from customary field visits.
Both the BJD and BJP have been releasing banner ads in leading media to grab people’s eyeballs. While the BJD’s publicity campaign was centred on its achievements, the BJP blew up its recent foundation stone laying event of an LPG bottling plant at Balangir, a project that will supposedly benefit people in 14 districts.