As the Naveen Patnaik led Biju Janata Dal celebrated its 15th anniversary on Wednesday, the party appeared to be gearing up for early assembly polls. Not only did it plaster local newspapers with advertisements listing out its achievements, the Chief Minister, too, played to the gallery by launching a blistering attack on the Centre for neglecting Odisha , a complaint he has repeated once too often in the past.
The last assembly elections in the state were held in April, 2009 along with the general elections in the rest of the country. However, Patnaik may take his opponents by surprise with an early poll. Sources within the ruling party feel that instead of waiting till April 2014, the Chief Minister may opt for a fresh mandate towards the end of 2013.
The ads inserted in the daily newspapers highlighted the achievements of Naveen government including, among others, its financial turnaround with Odisha becoming the only state in the country which has not resorted to open market borrowings since 2006-07 and has not faced a revenue deficit since 2005-06.
While the advertisements also talk about upcoming thermal power plants and enhancement of women’s representation in rural and urban local bodies from 33 to 50 percent apart from schemes to provide bicycles to Class X girls in government schools, the focus is on investments to the tune of around rupees five lakh crore in the industrial sector where already 93 MoUs have been signed.
The Chief Minister has also been distributing sops left and right. Apart from giving Rs.200 to each elderly, widow and disabled person as winter assistance to buy blankets, his government recently also announced bicycles for 1.6 lakh class X students from poor families while deciding to continue with its cheap rice scheme for the poor at a whopping cost of Rs.1032 crore annually.
The announcements, which appear to have been planned with an eye to the elections, would also help chief minister fend off possible blows from adversaries who now include his former advisor-in-chief, Rajya Sabha member, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra who recently threatened to use a “brahmastra (accurate weapon)” against him with revelations with regard to illegal mining. Patnaik has also been castigated by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) recently for irregularities in the construction of minor ports while the multi-crore mining and coal scam continues to make news. Under the circumstances, if Mohapatra chooses to join hands with the Congress, the main opposition party as is being speculated, it could mean serious trouble for him. Source