Recently, an ABP News C-Voter State of the Nation 2021 survey adjudged Naveen Patnaik as the best performing CM in the entire country.
As the survey data reveal, around 70 per cent people of Odisha are very much satisfied with the Patnaik Government’s performance and in addition to that around 20 per cent of the respondents expressed their somewhat satisfaction with his Government’s achievements. This endorsement of 90 per cent of the survey participants clearly indicates the popularity and acceptability of Patnaik among the masses of Odisha.
When Patnaik entered politics and thereafter, when he became CM for the first time, many critics and analysts claimed that fortune played to his favour in the form of sympathy wave after Biju Patnaik passed away in 1998. But with each passing day he positioned himself as a self-made politician and grew up as a seasoned statesman proving his mettle in the art of governance, along with a simplicity that echoes Gandhian way of life, and strove ahead to pull Odisha up from the depths of poverty.A champion of economic development, he approached the problems of the State with scientific detail.
As the data show, from 2004 to 2012 under his stewardship, Odisha saw a poverty reduction by more than 20 per cent. No need to mention that now Odisha has emerged into a surplus rice producing State from a tragic food scarcity situation. Between 2011 and 2018 the State's Gross Domestic Product (SGDP) has almost doubled from Rs 2.13 trillion to Rs 4.16 trillion with a compound annual growth rate of 10.3 per cent, which is higher than the national average.
In 2018 alone, in terms of value, Odisha contributed 34.3 per cent of mineral production in India, the highest among States.
Odisha now has emerged as the most favoured investment destination, attracting a record 18 per cent of total investment in the country as per CMIE data 2019.
Even in agriculture, Odisha’s average annual growth rate is 4.5 percent, which is higher than the national average of 3.1 per cent. Odisha presents a separate budget for agriculture and in recognition of its agricultural productivity the Central Government has given Odisha five Krishi Karman awards continuously. In the field of sports also Naveen Patnaik has successfully put Odisha in the sports map of the world.
Super Cyclone of 1999, Phailin of 2013, Hudhud of 2014 and cyclone Fani of 2019 along with a number of floods have had a disastrous impact on Odisha with the State economy facing loss running into thousands of crores; yet the State has bounced back every time under the efficient leadership of Chief Minister Patnaik.
The applauds and accolades Patnaik has received not only nationally but also from various international platforms like the UN and international media, with regard to his administration’s disaster response mechanism, are well documented. The UN in 2013, felicitated Patnaik by presenting a citation for his handling of cyclone Phailin. The body also announced that the effort of the Odisha Government would be highlighted as a model for disaster management programmes globally.
In fact, Patnaik was invited to attend the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan. Similarly, PM Modi has lauded CM Patnaik on many occasions for his swift thinking and actions vis-à-vis natural disasters.
To take a recent example, even before the Central Government could act, Patnaik declared Covid-19 a disaster under the National Disaster Management Act and following his lead, Modi Government declared the same the next day.
Odisha was also far ahead than other States in establishing specially dedicated Covid hospitals in response to the fast spreading SARS CoV-2 virus. Whether by establishing new medical colleges, giving 45 lakh pucca houses under Biju Pacca Ghar Yojana for the poor, establishing Mission Shakti for self-help groups, Rs 1 rice per/kg for BPL families, Madhubabu Pension Yojana for the elderly, KALIA scheme for landless farmers and share-croppers, record reduction in poverty, farmers’ income getting doubled, incessant and uncompromising fight against corruption and zero-tolerance policy against crime, Patnaik has shown the path of transformational and inclusive politics that defy majoritarianism and polarization as political means to capture power.
His emphasis is always on consensual governance. He believes that every single citizen has a stake in governance. For him a democratic model of Government converts a polity into a polycracy or a polyarchy as said by Robert Dahl. And hence, he has adopted inclusiveness as the hallmark of his brand of politics. His new focus on citizen-centric governance with emphasis on 5Ts—technology, transparency, teamwork, timeliness and transformation—begins a new era in reshaping and reforming the administrative apparatus of Odisha that truly caters into the hopes and dreams of his fellow compatriots.
Patnaik, over the years, has proved that good governance is good politics and good governance could be a successful functioning of a political ideology, which Pranab Prakash Das rightly coined into the term ‘Naveen-ism’ in a recently-held party conclave.
(The writer is a former research scholar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and presently serves as a TV panelist for the Biju Janata Dal. Views are personal)