Naveen Babu’s Odisha remains Under Developed
Among the other eastern parts of India, Odisha has remained a backward state despite having a rich history of culture and literature, besides huge natural resources. Odisha sans Kalinga has witnessed many ups and downs since its inception, but the state’s backbone had never been so weak as it is now due to lack of integrity and political will. When Naveen Babu took over the rein of power in Odisha with the help of the BJP, the state was reeling under mis-governance, corruption and policy paralysis of the then Congress government. During the ruling of the state, for the first three tenures, Naveen has never lost any elections, neither at the local level or at the national level. Even when Narendra Modi was elected with a big mandate in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Naveen managed to win 20 Lok Sabha seats out of a total of 21 seats in Odisha. Like Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, Naveen started many popular schemes for the common man. Even UPA and NDA governments awarded the Naveen-led government for its good agricultural production. Industries made a bee-line to the state. Everything was running fine under Naveen Babu till the recent local elections in 2017, where the BJD received drubbing at the hands of the BJP. So, what went wrong with the Naveen Patnaik government? Why, all of a sudden, are people now opposing the BJD government? In one line, one can say that the Opposition maintained a studied silence against Naveen Patnaik’s government’s failures. Against this backdrop, it cannot be gainsaid that Naveen Babu is very lucky, as the Narendra Modi government, which is known for its zero tolerance against corruption, has not initiated any action against the notorious corruption cases such as mines scam and chit fund scams, unearthed in Odisha.
Now let’s take a look at the state-of-affairs in Odisha. Popular schemes like Re one per kg rice or five rupees per meal are boomeranging on the state government, as the money spent on these schemes were diverted from the funds allocated by the Union government. Based on its rich language, Odisha was declared a separate state in 1936. After so many years, it was decided that the government files and letters should be drafted in Odiya language. But it is still not implemented and the CM himself cannot speak Odiya till now, which badly hurts the sentiments of the Odiya people. Farmers’ suicides have become a very serious problem in Odisha now, as more than 200 farmers have committed suicide for not repaying their loan. Despite many assurances by the state government, still the minimum support price is not available to the farmers. Irrigation is a major issue for farming in Odisha. The BJD government had assured to provide at least 35 per cent irrigation facilities, but unfortunately, till now in many blocks,even 3 per cent irrigation facilities are not available in Odisha. In last 15 years, the ongoing projects to build dams on nine rivers are yet to see the light of the day. What a pitiable situation of the infrastructure for agriculture facilities in the state, where 70 per cent of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The condition of migrant labourers in Odisha is atrocious. No employment is created in the state as major industries like POSCO, L N Mittal’s ArcelorMittal have already left the state. No big industries now wish to invest in Odisha for the development of industrial sector, as the government failed to provide a conducive atmosphere for industrial growth in the state. Whatever small industries are left in the state, they do not follow the norms of the Industrial Policy of Odisha, which categorically states that in all the industries, at least 90 per cent Odiya people should be employed and of them 30 per cent should be at the supervisor level. But all rules are flouted openly. So, the people of Odisha are again afflicted with the same mis-governance and lawlessness with a poor political will to run the state as was witnessed during the Congress regime. The state is in a dire need for good governance with a strong political will. For, when Naveen Babu first assumed the power, it was hoped Odisha would tread the path of development. But during his regime, the state has gone 20 years back on the development front. And at the available circumstances, only the iron image of Narendra Modi can give good guidance to the state for a change of guard.