As he completed 20 years in office as Odisha chief minister on Thursday, BJD president Naveen Patnaik expressed gratitude to the people and said he has still a long way to go to empower the 4.5 crore citizens of the state.
Patnaik took oath as Odisha chief minister for the first time on March 5, 2000 (his father Biju Patnaik’s birth anniversary).
A disinclined politician, the 73-year-old leader returned to power for the fifth consecutive term last year after leading the Biju Janata Dal to another emphatic electoral victory.
“I am grateful to people of Odisha for allowing me to serve them for 20 years. We have achieved a great deal, but we have still a long way to go to do more to empower four-and-a-half crore people of the state,” Patnaik said in a video message.
Highlighting his government’s performance, he said the state has moved from the days, in 1999, when a super cyclone killed 10,000 people.
The Patnaik government’s effective handling of Cyclone Fani last year had won him praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the UN and other global organisations.
“The state has overcome all odds with the support and cooperation of the people and achieved progress. I am indebted to the people of Odisha for their uninterrupted support. We are now leading in many sectors, from Mission Shakti (a women empowerment programme) to Mo Sarkar (my government),” the chief minister said.
“These 20 years have changed Odisha,” he said.
Recently in assembly, Patnaik said, “During the last 20 years of our governance, we promised what we could deliver and delivered what we promised. We are the only state which has doubled farmers’ income. We have brought more than 8 million people out of poverty in the last decade.”
Youngest among the three children of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, he had taken on the mantle of his father hesitantly after his demise in 1997. Once rated a novice, Patnaik never tasted defeat in his over two decades long political career.
In February this year, he was elected BJD president for the eight consecutive term. He has been holding the post since the regional party was formed in December 1997.
Known for maintaining a “dirt-free snow-white image”, Patnaik removed over four dozen ministers from his council of ministers since 2000 on varied charges.
His popularity was first put to test when the “Modi wave” swept India in 2014. But the BJD remained unaffected and won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha besides also winning the assembly elections that year.
The BJD again successfully faced another political storm in 2019 when the NDA won over 300 seats in Lok Sabha under Modi’s leadership. Patnaik’s BJD though lost eight seats to BJP in the general election, but registered a landslide victory in state polls.
BJD won 12 Lok Sabha seats while BJP bagged eight seats in 2019 election. The rest one seat went to Congress.
On Thursday, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said in a statement, “Odisha continues to remain backward despite BJD ruling the state in a row for two decades.
“Odisha has failed in all parameters of agriculture, irrigation, health, education. However, there has been good increase in crimes, especially crimes against women and children,” he added.
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