Why Naveen Patnaik is No. 1 Chief Minister in India?

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a roadshow for Lok Sabha elections

Image credit X Biju Janata Dal

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By Pradeep Kumar Panda

Bhubaneswar, May 31: When Naveen Patnaik took over as Chief Minister in 2000, the state was going through a severe crisis after the 1999 Super Cyclone. The finances of the state were in a mess and there was no money to pay even salaries. The development activities had come to a complete halt. In those days, Odisha used to be in news for all the wrong reasons like hunger, poverty, disasters.

In the last two decades of Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, the State has come out of the crisis situation and has been making rapid strides in development and emerged as a role model in many fields.

It was not an easy journey. Naveen Patnaik had to overcome many challenges including a strong legacy of political corruption and administrative lethargy in the state. Large parts of the state face geographical and social-economic hurdles.

But with a single-minded focus to fulfil the aspirations of the 4.5 crore people of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik government have been working with grit and determination. The people of Odisha appreciate good governance and reposed their faith in BJD party for five successive terms.

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Naveen did what many political observers thought was unthinkable year after year. After 22 years in power and being voted no. 1 is beyond expression of words. It is the blessing of 4.5 crores Odia whose heartbeat for the man. Year after year, his popularity is on the rise.

In an era dominated by politicians of humble origins, he is something of an anomaly. Having spent most of his life outside Odisha, mingling with the high and mighty, how did he come to be accepted and loved as one of Odisha’s own?

Welfare motive is there in his genes being former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik’s son. A legendary figure in Odisha, Biju Patnaik was an Air Force pilot and freedom fighter-turned-industrialist-turned-politician. In his four-decade-long career as a politician, he played a stellar role in developing a backward state like Odisha. He was elected chief minister twice.

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His death at 81 because of pneumonia left a vacuum in Odisha’s heart and the state’s politics as well. His colleagues in the Janata Dal knew the sentiment surrounding his name and sought out his younger son to fill the vacuum.

He was not a natural at politics. Tall and suave, he was a regular in the party circuit in Delhi. Having studied first at the Doon School in Dehradun, and later at the St Stephen’s College in Delhi, he once ran a boutique called ‘Psychedelhi’ on the premises of The Oberoi in Delhi, the clientele of which included the Beatles themselves. Clad in jeans and T-shirt, he was far removed from the masses he had to win over. The only thing going for him was his second name.

To help his chances, he shed his jeans and T-shirt and adorned a simple white kurta and pajama. His relative anonymity served him well. The only thing the people knew about him was that he was Biju Patnaik’s son. At a time when most politicians were shrouded in scandals, Naveen, clad in white, looked appealing. The rest is history.

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He was first elected to Lok Sabha from Aska, which fell vacant following his father’s death in 1997, and was minister for mines in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry. A year later, he split the Janata Dal and launched the Biju Janata Dal party. He became chief minister in 2000 after his party won the elections along with the BJP. Nineteen years on, he is on the way to win yet another term on his own, battling the BJP and the Congress.

Naveen is known for his simplicity and austerity. This aura of austerity and self-sufficiency along with his minimal requirements has endeared him to his people. Possessing a reputation of being cold and calculative, he is famous for being decisive, for being unafraid of getting rid of people whose reputations have been tarnished by corruption or when their usefulness had come to an end. He once stripped a dozen powerful IAS officers of their powers when he felt that they were no longer required.

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Above all, it is the development he brought to Odisha that endeared him to the people. Farmer Empowerment scheme called KALIA (which provides financial aid to all types of farmers in the state and Union Government launched PM Kisan Nidhi scheme getting influenced by KALIA scheme) is a case in point. The government under Naveen Patnaik has made the farmers a priority, with plenty of schemes over the years designed to benefit them.

He focused on the women of Odisha, too, with Mission Shakti schemes for near 80 lakh women, which gave them financial independence to nearly 6.02 lakh self help groups, thus providing the family with a supplementary source of income. Gender empowerment model of Naveen is also reflected in the recently concluded Panchayati Raj Election of 2022. 50% of the seats reserved for women from Ward to Zilla Parishad level. As a result, 56% women are chosen as village Sarpanch, 57% as PS member, 66% as PS chairperson, 55% as Zilla Parishad Member and 70% as Zilla Parishad President.

Particular Base Year Value Current Year Value
Per Capita Income 2000-01 Rs. 10,211 2022-23 Rs. 1,50,676
Multidimensional Poverty 2005-06 68.34% 2022-23 11.07%
Maternal Mortality Ratio 2001-03 358 2018-20 119
Infant Mortality Rate 1998-99 89.5 2019-21 36.1
Children Vaccination 1998-99 44% 2019-21 91%
Institutional Delivery 1998-99 22.7% 2019-21 92.2%
Gross State Domestic Product 2001-02 Rs. 46,756 Crore 2023-24 Rs. 861,507 Crore
Total Export 2000 Rs. 387.48 Crore 2022-23 Rs. 1,37,211 Crore
Budget Size 1999-00 Rs. 3225 Crore 2022-23 Rs. 2,58,200 Crore


Also, Odisha, because of its geography, is prone to cyclones, floods, and even tsunamis. The super cyclone of 1999 killed around 10,000 people. Soon after coming to power, the government set up the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority. Its effectiveness has been evident over the years, with the UN felicitating Naveen Patnaik in 2013 for the state government’s handling of the cyclone Phailin.

When cyclone Fani devastated the state in the first week of May this year, more than a million people were evacuated in 24 hours and relocated to cyclone shelters, thus minimizing casualties. Year on Year, zero casualty mission was achieved in every natural disaster.

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He made Bhubaneswar, the sports capital of the country and arranged many coveted international tournaments that were well appreciated by international and national fraternity. Odisha’s patronage to hockey in terms of all round support and sponsoring of both Men and Women National Hockey Team since 2018 and state will continue the sponsorship for next ten year. Result we have witnessed in terms of Olympic Hockey Medals. World’s largest hockey stadium was built in Rourkela in record 15 months and hosted World Cup Hockey in 2023 along with Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. Odisha became first state in the world to host two Hockey World Cup tournaments consecutively.

Under his visionary leadership, Odisha is one of the fastest-growing states in the Country and is expected to grow at 10.1% in 2021-22 which is higher than National growth rate of 8.8%. Industry sector is expected to grow strongly by 14.5% largely due to the stellar performance of manufacturing and mining and quarrying sub-sectors which grew at 14.3% and 18.1% respectively. Services sector is estimated to grow by 7.9% in 2021-22.

The share of Agriculture & Allied in GSVA is 20.06%, Industry Sector share is 39.5 % and share of service sector is 39.9%. Per capita income has grown significantly at 16.8% in 2021-22, to reach Rs 1,27,383 from 1,09,071 in 2020-21. He is also credited with bringing large-scale industrialization to the state, which was, before 1997, mostly agricultural.

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Odisha is awarded first prize for MSME promotion in the country by Government of India. Similarly, Odisha bagged first prize in Mineral Development in the country. Odisha Government has launched IT Policy 2022 which is making the state a global IT Hub. All software giants have opened office in Odisha and in last 3 years, more than 30,000 IT jobs were created.

Odisha’s sound fiscal management is widely appreciated by the Reserve Bank of India, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Odisha has one of the lowest Debt to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) ratio in the country.

Since inception of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act in 2003, Odisha has never violated FRBM norms related to Fiscal Deficit, Revenue Deficit, Primary Deficit and Debt to GSDP ratio. The size of Odisha Budget saw thousand times increase from Rs. 3282 crore in 2000-01 to Rs. 2 Lakh crore in 2022-2023.

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Odisha is first state in the country to release Agriculture Budget, Gender Budget, Child Budget, Nutrition Budget, Climate Budget, SDG Budget and Mission Shakti Budget. Now Odisha is planning to come up with Rs. 1 lakh crore youth budget.

With sustained revenue collection and better expenditure management, the state has consistently reported a revenue surplus and maintained fiscal deficit within the FRBM Act mandated level of 3.5% of GSDP. The high share of developmental expenditures at 72.7% (2021-22 BE) in total expenditure is a positive indicator and shows state’s commitment towards overall socio-economic development.

Bhubaneshwar, one of the two ‘smart cities’ in Odisha secured the fourth rank among the top ten capital cities in India, in the ease of living index, 2021, released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. In 2021, Puri became the first city in the country, to provide ‘Drink from Tap’ facility under the SUJAL mission of the government.

It is also targeted to provide similar facility to all other Urban Local Bodies by 2025. Under the BASUDHA, the state is also providing universal coverage of piped drinking water supply to all rural people. The state has targeted to provide safe drinking water in all villages by 2024-25.

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Health expenditure as percentage of expenditure in the state has increased to record 8% in 2023-24. Odisha’s health budget is highest in the country.

The NNMR, IMR and U5MR are continuously declining which indicates the improved health outcome in the State. As per NFHS-5 (2019-21) the prevalence of NNMR stood at 27, IMR at 36.3 and U5MR at 41.1 per 1000 live births declining from 28, 40 and 48 in NFHS-4 (2015-16) respectively. Odisha has registered fastest decline in Infant Mortality Rate and second fastest decline in Maternal Mortality Ratio.

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The state has taken several steps towards full Immunization. As per NFHS-5 (2019-21), Odisha has notably immunized 90.5% of its children aged 12-23 months as against the national average of 76.4%.

He has communicated with his people very well in the past 25 years through a series of welfare measures for all categories of people and all-round development work. This, along with his clean image, has yet again ensured his imminent return to power for a fifth consecutive term as the chief minister. He has already made a lasting impact and will live in the heart of Odias forever.

Naveen Patnaik is ranked as no. 1 Chief Minister in India for last 25 years. He aims to make Odisha no.1 state in all aspects by 2034. Naveen Model of development has provided transformational governance with the aim to build a New Odisha, Empowered Odisha.

The principles of Naveen Patnaik Governance are best explained in the 5Ts – Transparency, Technology, Team Work, Time and Transformation. The state has seen complete transformation in all spheres of life and the model is appreciated by international and national agencies, Government of India and by opposition leaders.

This is charismatic visionary leadership of statesman who always believes 4.5 crore people of Odisha are his family and 24X7X365X25 years have worked selflessly for development of Odisha.

(Opinion expressed in the article solely belongs to the author)

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