Ahead of Rivals


Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik has managed to stay ahead of his rivals despite a raft of controversies. This is because like a clever politician he has won the confidence of people with his measures to bring the government closer to the citizens. He is now ensuring that each department of the government becomes accountable to the people and extends them the services they need. He continues to ride the goodwill of the people.

Despite the controversies surrounding his government chief minister, Naveen Patnaik seems to be going strong. There are reports of irregularities in the allocation of housing grants to the people affected by Fani with allegations flying thick and fast that many ineligible people have cornered the benefits.

What has helped Patnaik stay ahead of his rivals is the fact that while Congress is struggling to set its house in order the BJP is yet to come up with an effective strategy to counter the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD). On the other hand, Patnaik continues to take measures that are certain not only to strengthen his party but also enhance the image of his government.

While his recent steps to improve healthcare in government hospitals and make the police force more people-friendly gave drawn praise Patnaik is now focussing on making all the government departments more accessible and accountable to the people. If sources are to be believed ministers and bureaucrats have been issued necessary instructions in this regard.The whole effort is to bring the government as close to people as possible. Patnaik apparently believes that fruits of democracy cannot be enjoyed by the people unless there is a responsible and responsive government in place. He wants people to feel that they are the real masters.

Under him various departments have raised the level of their performance right upto the district and block levels. Take for example, the case of Jagatsinghopur district which has  achieved the top position among the 30 districts of the state in school education on the lines of Centre’s Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E) programme for the month of October.

Sources said that for 2019 a national achievement survey had been conducted on quality of education, health, infrastructure, academic performance, governance and other indicators. Jagatsinghpur, which was fifth among the districts, scored 255 points this year.

NITI Aayog had released a comprehensive roadmap and detailed timeline for the SATH-E project last year to make the entire Government school education system responsive, aspirational and transformational for every child. It aims to create role model states for education and mainstream islands of excellence across the country to facilitate qualitative and quantitative transformation of learning outcomes.

It is significant to note that all the eight blocks of Jagatsinghpur are in the top 20 among the 314 blocks of the state. Concerned about the poor academic performance of students in its primary and upper primary schools, state government had taken steps to grade all such institutions into three categories to raise learning outcomes and identify the performing ones.

Sources said that school and mass education department had sent a concept note to its district and block education officers detailing the procedure of bench marking of primary (Classes II-VIII) schools into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories under a programme called ‘Garima’ or school certification programme.

Out of 1,250 Government primary schools, 1,038 had applied for Garima of which 952 schools were pre-verified for bronze award. Out of 952 schools, 552 were selected for Garima bronze award for 2019.

Officials in Jagatsinghpur have attributed the district’s achievement to coordinated efforts between the local administration and the school and mass education departments.

Talking of pro-people measures initiated by the government one of the most recent is the launch of power boat service to connect 16 cut-off villages inside Indravati reservoir with the mainland of Kalahandi. The service comprises two power boats procured by Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Thuamul Rampur at a cost of Rs 25 lakh each.

The boats have a capacity to carry 60 passengers. Till now, country boats were the only means of communication for the villagers but they were not only slow but also dangerous to ride in rough weather.

The State Government has proposed to construct a bridge over the reservoir at an estimated cost of Rs. 54 crore. The bridge will connect the area with the mainland by road for the first time. Such steps are bound to add to the popularity of the state government which had also earned a lot of goodwill when the chief minister had inaugurated the Gurupriya bridge connecting 154 panchayats of  Malkangiri’s “cut off” area ( now known as Swabhiman Anchal) with the district’s mainland.

It was a long standing demand of people of Maoist-dominated Malkangiri. In the absence of a bridge people of the area had to depend upon country boats and launches to communicate with the mainland. This subjected them to great hardships as the ferry service operated between fixed hours and even country boat did not ply during the night hours.

The construction of the bridge has opened new avenues of employment for the people of the area as they can communicate easily with the mainland and government schemes can also be implemented easily in their panchayats. More importantly the bridge will facilitate the movement of security forces in the area which has been a Maoist fortress for last several decades.

The people of “cut-off” villages in Kalahandi district can avail of similar benefits once the bridge over the Indravati reservoir is ready. People are bound to appreciate the initiative of the government.

While the BJD government led by Naveen Patnaik is thus marching forward with confidence his main rivals, Congress and BJP are yet to get their act together. While the Congress is being riven by internal dissensions saffron leaders are struggling to evolve an effective strategy against Patnaik. So it’s advantage Naveen at the moment. His rivals cannot even dream of coming anywhere near him.