State Planning Board must function effectively
A devoted follower of legendary leader Biju Patnaik and an unalloyed loyalist of the Biju dynasty, Bishnu Das' name has been all pervasive among the masses of Jagatsinghpur district, and his ubiquitous influence as well as his formidable organisational strength is palpable everywhere in the district. This has been largely substantiated in the recent panchayat elections. Das was initiated into public life at the behest of Biju Patnaik together with encouragement of eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray. He was president of the SVM College, Jagatsinghpur from 1977 to 1980 consecutively. He shot into fame during the infamous Chhabirani rape and murder case by organising a State-wide campaign and courting arrest to bring justice to the wronged. In 1985, he contested the Assembly elections from the Jagatsinghpur constituency on a Janata Dal ticket and was humbled by the Congress owing to the sympathy wave out of Indira Gandhi's assassination. But in 1990, he opened his innings to the Assembly as a lone Janata Dal candidate from Jagatsinghpur district. Subsequently, he was reelected to the Assembly in 1995 and 2000. He was elected for a fourth time in 2004 and for the fifth time in 2009. He became Minister for School and Mass Education in 2006. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2016. Presently, he has been chosen for the coveted position of Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board besides being made convener of the BJD SC, OBC and Minority Cell. As a leader, he believes in the concept of a man speaking to men and is highly unassuming for which he is endeared to the masses unlike the self-aggrandizing charlatan politicians. In an interview to The Pioneer, Das spoke to Sugyan Choudhury at his Bhubaneswar residence.
You have been appointed as Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board. How do you accept it?
There is the dire necessity of the State Planning Board to function effectively in order to catapult the State through a steep growth trajectory. I have accepted this bounden responsibility wholeheartedly. In past, great leaders like Biju Patnaik, Nandini Satpathy, Nilamani Routray, Pratap Mohanty, Bed Prakash Agarwaland Surendra Natha Naik were there. The question is not about my position, but now it is all about its functioning to carry on a developmental agenda under the aegis of our popular leader Naveen Patnaik.
Do you take it as a blessing or as a curse for your people?
Definitely, I have taken it as a blessing of my beloved leader Naveen Patnaik for the State's growth and development. I am not worried about the perks and pensions which I am ready to forego for a greater cause in serving the people. All the plans, programmes, proposals which are in the pipeline shall be effectively translated into reality as per the requirements and within the constitutional framework of the State Planning Board.
What are the plans on your agenda for functioning of the Planning Board effectively?
It is too early to speak on your inquiry. But then, I shall act under the blessings and guidance of our Chief Minister for making this moribund organisation to work incessantly for development of the State. We shall also monitor the developmental plans of each of the thirty districts. We shall also try to garner more funds into it to translate the dreams of our Chief Minister for making Odisa more prosperous and progressive.
You have also been appointed as the chief of the BJD SC, OBC and Minority Cell. What are your plans in this area?
True, Hon'ble CM has given another opportunity to serve the SC, OBC and Minority communities with whom I have had been intimately connected throughout the length and breadth, nook and corner of the State. As a disciplined soldier of the party, I shall follow and act tirelessly as per the wishes of my party supremo Naveenji.
Senior party leader and Minister Damodar Rout is critical about your current appointments. How do you react to this?
I am neither elevated by honour nor depressed by ignominy. He is a habitual critic of anything and everything. You may just take it as a mumbo-jumbo as he only derives pleasure by hurling jibes. I may not be as tall, towering and prudent as Bijubabu, I may not be as effective as Nandinidevi, but I shall do my best to serve the people of the State sincerely like a committed soldier, with charity to all and malice to none.
Your detractors wonder as to what is the key of your success story in winning the confidence of your leader!
It is no fluke. My association with Bijubabu dates back to 1971 while he was in the Utkal Congress. Since then, I have been associated with him and have not forgotten him even for a while. My spirit of workmanship dedication and involvement for our people was known to Bijubabu and is now known to my present party supremo Naveen Patnaik. I am not enamoured by easy success, miraculous power and dazzling splendour. I am a workaholic who has hoped, cherished, struggled, suffered and endured for my party BJD.
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