Biju Janata Dal (BJD) led by Naveen Patnaik may not be in the NDA fold anymore but the relations between BJP and BJD have never soured. Throughout BJP’s second stint as the leader of NDA, the party from Odisha has shown support to the Narendra Modi government on contentious but pro-nation issues. Whether it be supporting the abrogation of article 370 or the introduction of CAA and NRC, Patnaik has been steady as a rock in his support to the centre. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons why the Prime Minister has inducted several key ministers in his cabinet reshuffle from Odisha.
The inclusion of three leaders from Odisha — Dharmendra Pradhan, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Bishweswar Tudu has already shown the importance the government places in the leaders coming from the state. Pradhan, who was in charge of petroleum and natural gas and steel ministries in the previous cabinet, has been given both the education ministry and the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.
Reported by TFI extensively, Vaishnaw, a former BJD leader and IAS officer has been picked as the nation’s new Railway Minister. The 50-years-old Rajya Sabha MP is a 1994 batch IAS officer, who has previously worked for the Vajpayee PMO and is well known for his contribution towards the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework in the infrastructure sector.
Ashwini Vaishnaw has good ties with Patnaik, and can possibly act as a bridge between the two parties if something coalesces in the future. In June 2019, Naveen Patnaik had announced the names of the Rajya Sabha candidates in the state. Out of these, Patnaik had made it a point to clarify that “Ashwini Vaishnaw” was a BJP candidate and that BJD was going to support him, suggesting the amicable relations between the centre and the state.
Similarly, Tudu, a tribal leader from Mayurbhanj, is the new minister of state for tribal affairs as well as Jal Shakti. Closely related to Tudu’s portfolio, the government recently increased the grant given to Odisha under the Jal Jeevan Mission in the year 2021-22 to Rs. 3,323.42 Crore, from Rs. 812.15 Crore in 2020-21.
Following the principle of the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, the motto of the Mission is that ‘no one is left out’ and every household in a village should be provided with a tap water connection. Since 2019, when the mission first began, over 4.5 Crore households have been provided with tap water connections.
According to news reports, in Odisha 25,820 schools (47 per cent) and 11,913 Anganwadi centres (22 per cent) have been provided tap water connections. Central Government has asked the State to get into an overdrive mode and provide the facilities in remaining schools, ashramshalas and Anganwadi centres along with PHCs/ CHCs, community centres.
Patnaik and his solid political demeanour
Reported by TFI, in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas, PM Modi arranged a review meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and CM Naveen Patnaik. While West Bengal and her egotistic leader gave another proof of her passive-aggressive behaviour by ditching the meeting, another opposition CM in Naveen Patnaik showed utmost grace in following the protocols.
Not only did the Odisha CM attend the review meeting with PM, but he also took to Twitter to announce that in light of the situation in the country due to the pandemic, his government would not seek any financial assistance from the centre.
“As the country is at the peak of COVID19 pandemic, we have not sought any immediate financial assistance to burden the Central Govt and would like to manage it through our own resources to tide over the crisis,” Patnaik tweeted.
Thank you Hon’ble PM @narendramodi ji for visiting #Odisha in the aftermath of #CycloneYaas. Apprised him about the large scale devastation caused by the cyclone and steps taken by the State Govt ahead of the cyclone and the ongoing restoration efforts. #OdishaFightsYaas pic.twitter.com/RG1dQpLcp0
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) May 28, 2021
Perhaps, it was the respect shown by Patnaik that the PM quickly announced immediate financial assistance of Rs.500 Cr to Odisha and expressed his solidarity with those affected due to Cyclone Yaas.
Naveen Patnaik has been a class apart as a politician, chief minister and as opposition leader too. He always supported the central government, irrespective of the party in power, on the matters of ‘National Importance.’ His politics have always been ‘constructive’ and dedicated towards the upliftment of society. And perhaps this is the reason that Patnaik has been the CM of the state for the last 20 years, despite the fact that he is not well-versed in Odia, the first language of the state.