Patnaik withstood Modi tsunami, employing women power and sops

People continue to debate how Modi and Shah met their second successive defeat at the hands of maverick politician.

Bhubaneswar: The soaring political temperature generated across the country during the recently concluded general elections may have dropped considerably, but it has certainly not fallen in Odisha.

People in the state continue to debate how Narendra Modi and Amit Shah met their second successive defeat here at the hands of maverick Naveen Patnaik, despite getting a massive mandate to rule at the Centre.

In 2014, Odisha chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik had defied the Narendra Modi wave and won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats; and 117 of the 147 Assembly seats, allowing the BJP to win from just one Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly constituencies.

This time also, Mr Patnaik dealt with the NaMo wave with no less defiance. His party has won 12 Lok Sabha and 112 Assembly seats to form the government in the state for a record fifth term, shattering BJP’s hope to wrest power in the state.

What did help Mr Patnaik to withstand the sweeping Modi wave?

Mr Patnaik replied to this query soon after the results of the Assembly polls announced.

“Our welfare measures and development activities helped us win people’s trust. Besides, the farmers and women came out in large numbers and voted for BJD,” he said.

The CM was facing a strong anti-incumbency wave because of the growing farmers’ unrest, unemployment and rural distress. He sensed trouble when he found that these factors spelt disaster for the BJP governments in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls last year.

In December 2018, Mr Patnaik announced his famous Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme that aimed at containing the growing discontentment of farmers. The scheme promised an assistance of Rs 10,000 to nearly 60 lakh farmers. Most of the farmers got the money in their bank accounts before the elections. Those who did not avail it, were assured that on the very first day of the formation of new government, they would get it. This worked wonders for the party.

In its manifesto also, the BJD promised the farmers reduced rate of interest further to 1 per cent from 2 per cent for agricultural loans in the next one year. Besides, the party also promised to create additional irrigation potential of more than 10 lakh hectares in the next five years.

“All procurement districts will have mandis and concrete drying platforms and threshing floors for every 5,000 people,” the manifesto said.

Shelter security is another masterstroke which also worked wonders for Mr Patnaik. He announced to provide a pucca house to all in a phased manner.

In July 2018, Mr Patnaik launched his own food security programme under which 34.44 lakh beneficiaries were covered. These beneficiaries also heavily sided with the BJD.

Just a few days before the elections schedule was announced, Mr Patnaik increased the old age and widow pensions which also benefited nearly 14 lakh elderly people who stood by him.

Mr Patnaik’s announcement of special incentives and seed money of '15,000 to women self-help groups reached nearly 70 lakh women most of whom cast their votes to the BJD. Besides, he also promised '2 lakh interest-free loan to each women self-help group.

Prior to rolling out of KALIA scheme, the Naveen Patnaik government had in March 2018 formed 8,000 Biju Yuba Vahini teams across all 6,799 panchayats and 114 urban local bodies. According to official statistics, 7,174 Biju Yuva Bahinis (BYVs) had been formed by September 2018 and 2,51,600 volunteers (girls and boys) had joined them in all 30 districts.

An allocation of '450 crore was made to be distributed to the BYVs. Each VYV was provided with '1.5 lakh for carrying out social, cultural and sports activities. These youths, most of whom are unemployed, got money in their hands and worked as strong cadres for the BJD.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah addressed over a dozen of rallies in Odisha to defeat Mr Patnaik. On the other hand, Mr Patnaik alone addressed nearly 150 meetings and held road shows across the state to hold the fort.

In the 2019 Assembly polls, the BJD’s vote share inched up to 44.7 per cent from 43.41 per cent in 2014.

The massive impact of the campaigning by PM Modi, Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan was reflected in the increase in the vote share of the BJP in 2019 polls.

The BJP polled 32.5 per cent of the total votes as against 18 per cent in the previous Assembly elections. Similarly, the saffron party’s vote share in Lok Sabha polls increased 38.5 per cent this time against 21 per cent in 2014.

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