Bhubaneswar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Odisha visit was strategically and politically important as the saffron party is finding it difficult to make inroads into the eastern parts of the country. The senior BJP leaders were expecting that Modi proved to be a trump card in party’s ‘look east’ strategy. Keeping these things in mind much buzz was created for the Modi's visit to Odisha.
Many senior BJP leaders and political observers were of the view that Modi’s visit to Odisha would not only spur new life and excitement among the party workers, but also it would be vital for the party’s mission 120 plus dream in the State. However to the surprise of many party leaders and political pundits, Modi was seen defensive against Naveen Patnaik as he didn't directly attack Patnaik in his speech.
Modi said that this is the "first time in history that the central government along with the Odisha Government is working for the development of Eastern-India."
But the million dollar question is why did not Modi attack Patnaik in his speeches unlike State BJP leaders like to do? The Newsroom.co tries to unravel the factors that made Modi tight-lipped against Naveen. Factors can mainly be divided into two mainly economic and political.
Facing severe criticism like failed to create jobs, economic slowdown, farmers woes, failing to curb black money and demonetization demon, attack on constitutional bodies be it CBI, RBI or Judiciary, many political pundits have opined that Narendra Modi did not find any suitable issues to attack Patnaik as the latter has out smart Modi in every aspect of economic front. Odisha has seen faster growth rate than national rate.
Patnaik received an overwhelming response from the industry Captains in recently concluded ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’ promoting Odisha the most preferred destination State for investment.
While Modi faced crushing defeats in recently concluded poll in three states, Patnaik, is credited to have introduced a range of creative welfare measures in Odisha, which is believed to be behind his consecutive wins.
Odisha has emerged as a model for many states to emulate. The State is at the forefront in development. It’s a welfare state in letter and spirit and a model for many other states as an ideal welfare mechanism. Highly successful schemes like Biju Swastya Kalyan Yojana, Aahar, PITHA, rural housing, skill development speak volume of Naveen Patnaik Government.
The development model Patnaik is pursuing is "inclusive" in nature that can ensure development for all sections of people. The development is visible in many sectors including the economy, infrastructure, education and health. In agriculture production and productivity have been doubled in the last five years. The farmers' income has also been doubled. In the next five years their income is targeted to go up twice of the present level.
While Modi has essentially advocated targeted schemes for the poor, the regional parties have initiated more broad-based programmes. Many political observers have credited the electoral successes of regional parties to such universal welfare programmes. By introducing KALIA, at a time when both Congress and the BJP are trying to upstage each other over farm loan waivers, Patnaik has most likely scored a point above his two main opposition parties.
There are about 32 lakh cultivators in the state. Of these, about 20 lakh have availed of crop loans. Of the 20 lakh loanee farmers, about 60% have regularly repaid loans. What wrong have the 60% done in repaying the loan while stressing the near-universal nature of KALIA. He also said that the amount will be distributed during cropping seasons to meet the initial input costs.
KALIA is expected to give a boost to his party in the assembly polls that will be held along with the 2019 general elections.
Try to Avoid Naveen Vs Modi
Unlike his previous visits to Odisha and speech, Modi didn't take on Naveen Patnaik directly. Visibly worried after crushing defeats in Hindi heartland states including MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and sensing no major upset in Odisha as Naveen is expected to return to power for record 5th consecutive term, Modi prefers to remain silent and shrewdly avoided to criticize Naveen.
Since BJP has no popular face in Odisha to take on Naveen Patnaik charisma, the saffron party is still banking upon Modi to bag vote and party's fortune.
Modi also knew the equation and he also quite aware that Modi wave is not at all there in the grassroots level. Modi didn't want make it Modi Vs Naveen. Apprehending crushing defeat in case of Modi Vs Naveen, Modi cleverly did not attack Naveen.
The best option for Narendra Modi, who is possibly dreaming a second consecutive term, is to ensure that the contest in Odisha does not become a direct fight between Naveen and Modi. Modi felt that by attacking Patnaik in his home turf which may turn out to be a boomerang for him.
Naveen remains extremely popular in the state and voters seem to be highly satisfied with the performance of the Patnaik government.
Moreover, keeping the BJD in good humour opens up many more options for Modi as many political pundits believe that leaders like Naveen Patnaik' could be play a role Kingmaker at the centre in 2019 where neither NDA or UPA is expected to get majority.