‘Believe in constructive cooperation with Centre’: Naveen Patnaik
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been at the state’s helm for 19 consecutive years and is set for a record fifth term, talks to Hindustan Times about his successful run in politics, the secret behind beating anti-incumbency and why people have stuck with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) despite the saffron sweep in the country. Edited excerpts:
Q. What makes you so successful in politics?
A. It has actually been our progressive development and welfare programmes for the people, particularly for the poor and for women, that have brought about these victories.
Q. Most people face anti-incumbency after so many terms. How did you manage to overcome it?
A. Through our schemes for the people of the state. We’ve always kept them in mind and that has brought about our success. When you put people first, it is good politics and there is no anti-incumbency.
Q. Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the evacuation exercise ahead of Cyclone Fani [which hit the state on May 3] and he visited Odisha soon after. Do you foresee greater cooperation between the Centre and your state?
A. We believe in constructive cooperation with the central government. I certainly hope that will prevail for the development of our state.
Q. The BJP has improved its tally in Odisha but your BJD is still the winner. What keeps voters faithful to the party?
A. It is a transparent government we have given the people and also, I repeat, due to our development and welfare schemes.
I’d like to cite Martin Luther King: If you love your people, you do not see the post you hold as a post, but as a means to serve the people and you do not see power as power, but a means to transform the lives of people.
Q. What are the three key factors that helped BJD win the polls this time?
A. We’ve always kept the people in mind, as far as governance is concerned. We have tremendous help from women in our state, due to our pro-women programmes . And as I said , we gave them a transparent government.
Q. Bhubaneswar and Puri in particular took a huge blow from Cyclone Fani. What kind of help did you receive from the Centre?
A. We are expecting a great deal more of it, but they have given us preliminary help.
Q. You congratulated the PM after his victory. Was there any talk of the BJD joining the National Democratic Alliance?
A. I just called to congratulate him, we didn’t talk about anything else.