Naveen’s New Political Drive


In his fifth coming as the chief minister of the state, Naveen Patnaik is doing what most of his predecessors had failed to do. His officials are visiting districts to get a feedback on governance. This had never happened before and the move promises to change the character of state politics. His opponents will find him hard to beat.

Politics is changing. While BJP, the main opposition is becoming more aggressive ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is finding new ways of countering it and winning the support of the electorate.

And the chief minister is not doing it for the sake of short term gains like a victory in the Bijepur by-poll. It is a long term game plan. On his instructions top officials of the state administration are visiting districts to for a reality check on the  government’s  Mo  Sarkar initiative. This has hardly ever happened before. People for the first time are realizing that the government is serious about the implementation of the scheme. These officers are, in a way, setting an example, and, in the process enhancing the image of the government.

They are not only paying visits to hospitals in different parts of the state, they are also having a look at the Aahar centers catering cheap meals to the people. Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy and Secretary to Chief Minister’s Transformation and Initiatives (5T) VK Pandian on recently paid a visit to District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) in Phulbani and had Aahar meal at the Boudh Hospital.

After visiting the DHHs in Kalahandi and Nuapada on Thursday, the senior officials accompanied by National Health Mission Director Shalini Pandit arrived at the DHH in Phulbani town to access healthcare facilities.

The team sought feedback from patients and their attendants in gynaecology, paediatric and other wards on implementation of 5Ts under Mo Sarkar initiative launched by the State Government on October 2. They also spoke to district health officials and DHH doctors about infrastructure issues and other problems in the hospital.

Equally important is the fact that the team of senior officials is more than willing also to listen to the problems of common people in the areas they have been visiting. For example, members of the Milita Nagarika Manch who had planned to hold a dharna in wake of Chief Secretary and 5Ts Secretary’s visit to the town, called off their agitation following a meeting with Tripathy which was arranged by Kandhamal superintendent of police.

The members spoke to Tripathy about the need for the establishment of a medical college in Phulbani. They told him that although Kandhamal district is located at the centre of Odisha, people of the district have to travel to other districts to avail healthcare. Although there are PHCs, CHCs and one DHH in the district, they do not have adequate doctors. The Chief Secretary assured them to look into the demand. This has been the hallmark of the present administration. It is truly people-centric.

The three-member team then went to Boudh Hospital to take stock of medical services being provided to patients. After interacting with patients and taking their feedback on their experiences at the government hospital, they held a meeting where Pandian emphasised on effective implementation of 5Ts in patient care. He directed district health officials and doctors to maintain cleanliness in the hospital and provide proper medical facilities to patients on time.

The team of top officials then had a lunch of rice and dalma served at the Aahar centre located on the hospital premises. Pandian along with Tripathy and Pandit purchased coupons for the Aahar meals.

In its bid to bring the administration truly close to the people the state government on trecently suspended the in-charge Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) of Sundargarh and slapped a show cause on District Collector for dereliction of duty and lapses in the implementation of ‘Mo Sarkar’ programme. Action against the two came after visit of Development Commissioner Suresh Mohapatra and Secretary in the department of 5Ts VK Pandian to the district headquarters hospital of Sundargarh.

Though it was an announced visit of the high-level committee to stake stock of the ground level execution of Mo Sarkar initiative, the officials received complaints from the patients and their attendants. Basing on the assessment, a showcause notice was issued to Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan, while in-charge CDMO Pankaj Patel was placed under suspension.

During the visit, Mohapatra and Pandian found that some patients were sent outside for pathological tests required for dialysis though all the diagnostic facilities were available in the DHH. The patients also showed bills and reports to the visiting team. Similarly, the team also found that patients were being provided only breakfast whereas there is provision for meals. The government has raised budget for the patient diet.

Official sources said during their visit to the district headquarters hospital in Sundergarh town, Mohapatra and Pandian found that there was dereliction of duty by the CDMO and lack of supervision on the part of the Collector. The action against the in-charge CDMO triggered reaction from Odisha Medical Services Association (OMSA) which opposed the suspension.

However, a senior official said that the matter should not be politicised. “Mo Sarkar aims to bring transparency and reforms. Negligence and dereliction of duty will attract action,” he said.

Meanwhile, random checks were also carried out in other district hospitals on the day to assess ground level implementation of the initiative. As many as three teams comprising senior officials visited district headquarters hospitals at Puri, Dhenkal and Jajpur to take feedback from patients as well as discuss with doctors on requirement to improve health service and infrastructure.

This is happening in the state perhaps for the first time. Such moves are bound to inspire confidence among people about the sincerity of the government in resolving their problems and bringing relief to those in need. It is obvious that in his fifth term as the chief minister of the state Naveen Patnaik is determined to make the government as people-oriented as possible. This will work as much for the state as for his party which has already established itself as the most successful regionl outfit in the history of the state. Naveen has proved that he is the master of the political art.