New Delhi: After completing 21 years as the Chief minister of Odisha in March this year, 75-year-old Naveen Patnaik continues to be the one of the most popular Chief Ministers in India.
Naveen Patnaik, son of Biju Patnaik, a two-time Chief Minister and a prominent leader in Odisha, founded the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after the demise of his father in 1997. After the formation of the party in the name of his father, the BJD went on to win all the elections in the state, first in alliance with the BJP and later on its own since 2009 onwards.
The junior Patnaik, has formed a record of being the longest serving Chief Minister in the country.
The BJD has remained as one of the major forces in the state as it has won all the Assembly polls in the last two decades and bagged the state’s share of the Lok Sabha seats despite the Narendra Modi wave in 2014 and 2019.
Before entering into the fifth term in 2019, the junior Patnaik launched several schemes in the state which made him popular. And even after being elected for the fifth consecutive term he launched many other schemes which have become popular with the people of Odisha.
When Naveen Patnaik became the Chief Minister in early 2000, the state was still recovering from the super cyclone of 1999 in coastal districts.
However, in the past two decades, natural calamity-prone Odisha has been hit by several cyclones, including cyclone Fani in 2019 but under Naveen Patnaik the state has been equipped to face these disasters. The handling of the cyclones won national and international praise for him.
Odisha which earlier faced the ignominy of poverty and higher infant mortality rate, now has a stable government, steadily growing economy, record reduction in poverty, and doubled farmers’ income. The state has made its mark in the field of sports and tourism and is considered to be a highly desirable destination for investment.
Naveen Patnaik introduced the maximum number of social welfare measures in comparison to his predecessors. He launched schemes like rice at Rs 1 per kg for poor to KALIA scheme for farmers which is equivalent to Centre’s PM-KISAN scheme.
Through these schemes, the BJD government has tried to touch all sections of society besides taking care of other aspects of growth, including infrastructure to industrialisation in the state.
According to state statistics, in the last several years the average growth of Odisha has remained about 8 per cent compared to national average of about 6.9 per cent.
Earlier the state government has claimed that Odisha has emerged as the most favoured investment destination.
The BJD government under Naveen Patnaik has also taken up the work of upgrading the health infrastructure in the state. One of the first AIIMS was set up in Bhubaneswar, and the state government has decided to transform the state’s oldest medical college at Cuttack into a state of the art facility and turn it into an AIIMS Plus integrated medical institution with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.
The BJD government has also set up four new medical colleges, and seven more are in the pipeline.
Under Naveen Patnaik, the state has managed to place itself in the sports map of the world after Hockey World Cup 2018 was held successfully at the Kalinga Stadium of Bhubaneswar.
What makes Naveen Patnaik more popular in the state among women are the initiatives that his government has taken to promote self-help groups. On International Women’s Day last year, Naveen Patnaik announced creation of a new department ‘Mission Shakti’ for self-help groups. Three days prior to that he also announced the state government’s decision to provide 20 lakh concrete houses to rural poor in next four years.
The BJD founder had recently also taken up the development of Puri, considered as the abode of state’s presiding deity Lord Jagannath to transform it into a world heritage city with total investment of Rs 3,208 crore.
Several leaders of the BJD said that the main thrust of the Naveen Patnaik government in his fifth term is citizen-centric governance and the focus is on 5 Ts — technology, transparency, teamwork, time and transformation.