Bhubaneswar: As Naveen Patnaik completed the first year of his fifth term as the Odisha chief minister on Friday, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) hailed the state government’s success in tackling calamities like cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the opposition BJP, Congress and Left parties said the first year of Patnaik’s fifth term was a “complete failure”.
Patnaik’s feat went unnoticed as the state is busy tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the chief minister presided over meetings of the cabinet and Council of Ministers, marking the completion of the first year.
Patnaik’s fifth term, which started with extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani on May 3 last year, before the election results were announced, continues amid the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In between, the government also faced Cyclone Bulbul, which hit the state.
Cyclone Fani that made landfall near Puri killed at least 64 people, besides destroying infrastructure, and the government took over two months to restore normalcy.
Cyclone Bulbul in November 2019 claimed at least two lives and damaged houses, trees and power equipment in a big way.
The state government has, however, earned praise at the national and international level for successfully tackling the twin cyclones, senior BJD leader and former minister Debi Prasad Mishra claimed.
The state encountered altogether a new disaster in the form of COVID-19.
“It is the biggest challenge for the entire human race,” the chief minister said, claiming that his government is successfully fighting the pandemic by containing its spread and restricting the fatalities.
Patnaik has claimed that the fatality rate of COVID-19 in the state is not only the lowest in the country, but in the world.
“Opposition leaders should see the corona situation in the states ruled by the BJP and Congress. They should criticise the government only after going through casualty and infection rates in rich states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu,” Mishra said.
However, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik of of the BJP said, “People had given the mandate to the BJD and its leader with great hopes, but now they have no trust in the government. The government has not met the aspirations of people and unemployment is at its peak.”
He said the state has “miserably failed” to generate funds, which has caused difficulties in the implementation of welfare programmes.
BJP deputy leader in the Assembly B C Sethi said the state government is “totally dependent” on central assistance.
CPI(M) state secretary Ali Kishore Patnaik and CPI state secretary Asish Kanungo alleged that the BJD government is “publicity oriented” and said the miseries of tribals, Dalits, the working class and youngsters have been compounded in the first year of Patnaik”s fifth term.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said, “The government has failed on all fronts. The people’s representatives are completely ignored.”
He pointed out that Patnaik has been the chief minister for over 20 years since March 5, 2000 and one can see the “dismal performance”.
“Farmers are not getting water for agriculture, no teachers in schools and no doctors in hospitals,” he said.
However, apart from dealing with calamities, the BJD government’s fifth term has started with people-centric programmes like “Mo Sarkar” and its approach has been based on 5 ”T”s (Teamwork, Technology, Transparency and Time, leading to Transformation).
“In most of the cases, people do not have to run to government offices, but get their works done sitting at home through technology,” BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sasmit Patra said.
He said under the “Mo Sarkar” (my government) programme, launched on October 2, 2019, people are treated properly at police stations and hospitals. No one is asked to pay a single penny to get things done at the official level, the BJD leader said.
Quoting the chief minister, Patra said: “People are the real owner of the government and all officers, ministers and others get their salaries from people”s money. Therefore, people have the first right over the government.”
Highlighting the government’s expertise in disaster management, he said the state has achieved zero casualty in the real sense in Cyclone Amphan. “There is no point attacking the government for the sake of opposition,” Patra said.
In the first year of its fifth term, particularly after Cyclone Fani devastated Puri and Bhubaneswar, the state government has launched a Rs 3,208-crore plan under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme. The objective is to transform Puri into a world heritage city in the next three years.
Similarly, it has announced several schemes ensuring free treatment and medicines for all, besides adding more than one lakh beneficiaries under the State Food Security scheme.
The government employees, who were waiting for a promotion for years, got an opportunity as Patnaik started the Promotion Adalat, which facilitated many to get their desired place in the administration.
In politics, Patnaik continued with his winning spree and the BJD won in both the by-elections held in the Bijepur and Patkura Assembly segments, besides all the vacant seats in the Upper House of Parliament.
The BJD chief, however, completely silenced the BJP, when it gifted a Rajya Sabha seat to the saffron party’s nominee, Ashwini Vaishnav.