Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal President Naveen Patnaik is set to take oath as Odisha chief minister for the fifth consecutive term. He becomes only the third chief minister, after Sikkim’s Pawan Chamling and West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu, to achieve that feat. Edited excerpts from an interview with the veteran leader:
How do you read this moment?
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people of our state for having showered their blessings on me time and time again. I would also like to thank the leaders and workers of the BJD for the hard work during this campaign and, of course, the women of Odisha who came out in such large numbers to vote for us.
In your opinion, what is the reason behind these for consecutive victories? Because it’s not easy to win a fifth term at the end of the fourth term — there are issues like anti-incumbency and voter fatigue. But when you look at the Assembly, you have done quite well, winning more than a 100 seats.
I put it down to our excellent welfare and development programmes for the people. Those have been very successful and I attribute a great deal to that.
When you come to the Lok Sabha and Parliamentary elections, are you disappointed that it is not up to the expected mark?
We got 20 of the 21 parliamentary seats last time. This time, it is still hovering around 30...so let’s wait and see.
Do you think people voted differently in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections? Even if it is about 5% of voters, have they made that distinction?
So it would seem, yes.
Why do you think it happened in Odisha this time?
There is a Modi wave going on in most parts of the country and that has affected Odisha too as far as the Parliament is concerned.
Is it to some extent or to a great extent?
Well, in Odisha, to some extent.
What would be your first priority when you take oath as chief minister? You made a lot of promises, among them the disbursement of money under the Kalia scheme. (It is a direct-benefit transfer scheme for farmers and landless workers, wherein all farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation.)
It will be the disbursement of Kalia funds as we had said in the campaign
What would be your vision for Odisha?
We will concentrate doubly hard on the welfare of all of Odisha.
How do you see your relationship with the central government, the BJP-led NDA government? They have got a stunning victory today.
I congratulated the prime minister this morning over telephone and I see constructive cooperation with the Centre for the development of the state.
How would you relax now that the anxiety of results is over? Were there anxious moments while following results?
I had no real anxious moments. Every election has anxious moments. But in this, as you can see, we have done very well from the beginning.
How will you relax?
There is no time to relax, we have to swear in a new government and get down to work.