No significant progress has taken place under Patnaik’s leadership: Pradhan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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No significant progress has taken place under Patnaik’s leadership: Pradhan

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Apr 21, 2024 12:35 PM IST

Sambalpur goes to polls on May 25, and Pradhan is in the midst of a hectic campaign. He spoke to HT about BJP’s poll plank and the party’s prospects

Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency, is contesting elections after a gap of 15 years.

Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan (File Photo)
Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan (File Photo)

Sambalpur goes to polls on May 25, and Pradhan is in the midst of a hectic campaign. He spoke to HT about BJP’s poll plank and the party’s prospects.

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Q. How do you see chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s decision to contest from the western Odisha constituency of Kantabanji affecting BJP’s prospects as well as your prospects?

Naveen Patnaik contesting from Kantabanji is a gimmick. After winning Bijepur he resigned and retained Hinjili. Forget Bijepur, did Bargarh district see any overall development? During the 2019 elections, he had said he would personally take charge of Bijepur’s development. He also made a minister from the district. But what happened? No significant progress has taken place. Tribals, OBCs (Other Backward Classes), Dalits and farmers are not his priority.

Now look at Kantabanji. It is a major centre of labour migration in western Odisha. His (Patnaik’s) government has been in power for 24 years and yet, labour migration continues unabated. What is the drinking water availability scenario in Bolangir? The CM’s own constituency – Hinjili is also a major centre for labour migration. It seems he has come to Kantabanji to showcase the migration of labourers. What is the situation of vacancies of doctors in government hospitals in the district? What is the situation in western Odisha as well as Odisha? What is the situation as far as drinking water, health facilities and education are concerned? Elections should not be personality-oriented, rather it should be based on issues. Before he files his nomination for Kantabanji, the chief minister should give a clarification on what he has done on these issues. His credibility would be established only after he clarifies these issues. In the last 24 years, he (Patnaik) has fooled and failed the Odia people. His credibility is at its lowest this time.

Q. You recently spoke about your party’s decision to make Odia Asmita a major poll plank. Can you elaborate on it?

When we talk of Odia Asmita, it means the government’s failure to bring development for people at large for the state despite being in power for so long. What is there to be proud of when thousands of youths from chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s constituency in Hinjili are forced to migrate to Gujarat for livelihood? When we talk of Odia Asmita it means protecting the interest of tribals and not taking a cabinet decision that allows the sale of tribal land to non-tribals. BJD (Biju Janata Dal) is a party which could not find any Odia person to lead them, but a non-Odia bureaucrat who takes all major decisions. We would go to people detailing how the state has been appropriated by non-Odia sections.

Q. What other issues do you have apart from Odia Asmita to counter the BJD during the elections?

There are several issues such as lack of employment, drinking water crisis, failure in agriculture, deterioration in the education sector and worsening law and order. The (state) government has failed everyone – from farmers to students. There is widespread resentment all over the state against the government.

Q. One of the major criticisms of the BJP in Odisha has been the lack of a chief ministerial face to counter Naveen Patnaik. Will you have a CM face this time and will you be the CM face?

Ours is not a regional party like the BJD. We are fighting the election under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is extremely popular, so the lack of a chief ministerial face is not a problem. We have not yet decided who will be the CM. We will fight with a collective leadership approach and the question of who becomes CM is something the party will decide.

Q. Is your party confident of forming a government in Odisha?

We will win all the 21 Lok Sabha seats in this election. We will also form the government in Odisha with an absolute majority. There is no doubt about that.

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