When former principal accountant general of Odisha Amar Pattnaik ceremonially joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in August 2018, it didn’t evoke much uproar. Patnaik’s name was doing the rounds and was enough grist for the political gossip mills even before his induction into the ruling party. It was part of the BJD’s supremo Naveen Patnaik’s deft strategy to inculcate apolitical people of influence to the party. Previously, the chief minister had roped in former Mumbai super cop Arup Patnaik and ex All India Radio’s director general Giridhari Mohanty who has been serving the party since April 2018.
Patnaik was swiftly appointed the head of the BJD’s IT cell as the ruling party was aiming for a more widespread presence on the social media, something which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been using to the hilt. Patnaik, known to be a cerebral officer of the Indian Audit & Accounts Service, opted for voluntary superannuation from service with nine years to spare in his career. Aside from Odisha, he had also served as the principal accountant generals of West Bengal and Kerala. Patnaik claimed the effectual leadership of Naveen Patnaik had spurred him to join BJD.
In his capacity as the BJD’s IT strategist, Patnaik has been fielding tough questions to the Central government, especially its poster boy in Odisha- Dharmendra Pradhan. He alleged the Ujjwala scheme has been a complete failure in Odisha and wondered why the Union minister had not uploaded online the names of the beneficiaries. The programme has a smattering of large scale corruption, feels he, and is ineffectual with more than 80 per cent of the avowed beneficiaries not opting for a refill.
He has also led the BJD’s chorus of protest against the Modi government for its monumental unemployment crisis. “The Modi-government had promised to create two crore jobs per year. But data shows that unemployment rate in 2017-18 was highest in last 45 years,” he says.