Frightened Naveen firewalls self against saffron influence?

By A K Sahoo

Bhubaneswar, June 21: It could be described like this: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is now trying to firewall self and his party’s vote bank in the state against any sorts of saffron influence.

As it appears, the CM thinks the best way to firewall the party and self is to take a direct confrontation with the NDA government at the Centre and reject its pro-people measures that aim at benefitting the masses.

This fear has resulted in the Odisha CM rejecting some of the recent Central programmes like Akankshi and Ayushman Bharat, besides ignoring to observe the International Yoga Day.

Analysts say Naveen is well aware of the fact that his s regional party, formed in 1997 in the backdrop “perennial neglect” to the state by successive Union governments, draws strength from anti-Centre posturing. And for this only, he very cunningly fans this sentiment whenever he finds the popularity of his government goes down and shows a downward trend. This game-plan has always proved highly productive and fetched him huge votes in electoral exercises.

Although the NDA government is pumping in huge money to Odisha, – the Odisha CM has never missed any chances to take swipes at the Centre on slightest pretexts. According to Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the Modi Government has provided a total of Rs 1,96,632.7 crore during last four years against Rs 82,185.58 crore during the UPA-II Government’s last four year. “Odisha has been benefited the most due to the policy decision of the Union Government,” says the minister Pradhan.

Experts point out that the last two years have seen the acrimony between the BJD and BJP hitting the new lows.

In the very first instance, the BJD government boycotted the Union government’s proposal for evaluation the ongoing socio-economic development programmes in some of the backward districts in the state under the Centre’s Akankshi programe. As many as 10 districts of Odisha are included in the Centre’s 100 Aspirational Districts (Ads).

As per the Akankshi programme, the Centre shall make development interventions in certain key areas such as nutrition, education, health and availability of electricity basing on the study of the ongoing programmes conducted by its agencies.

In the second instance, which came very recently, the Naveen Patnaik, categorically rejected the Union government’s offer to implement the Ayushman Bharat health programme. On the other hand, it launched its own health programme – Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana.

Though the BJD government took the plea that it rejected Ayushman Bharat Yojana as covered only 61 lakh families, instead of 70 lakh families identified by the state government, – the analysts, however, maintained that the CM feared his party’s vote bank would erode considerably once the central health progamme was executed in the state.

Naveen chose not to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired Governing Council meeting of the NITI Aayog held on June 17 in New Delhi allegedly as he allegedly tried to maintain a safe distance from the NDA government.

The profundity and dept of growing rift between the BJD and BJP came to the fore on June 21 when the state government did observe the International Yoga Day. The state government’s official programme was called off in the last minute.

The friction and hostility, political analysts say, would go further in the coming days.

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