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In Hinjili constituency, voters give Naveen Patnaik thumbs up for growth

Hiinjili has emerged as Odisha’s top Assembly constituency from where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has won four times since 2000, and each time with a bigger margin.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 13, 2019 17:50 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Hinjili
Lok Sabha elections 2019,General elections 2019,Election news
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik addressing a crowd from his campaign bus at Hinjili during a roadshow on Saturday.(Debabrata Mohanty/HT PHOTO)

In Hinjili, from where he has won four times, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik keeps his campaign speech short as he addresses motley crowd from a hydraulic lift in a specially designed bus.

“Aapan mane kushi to, mu bi bahut kushi (If you are happy, I am happy too). Apana mane mote ashirbad karantu, sankha chinhare vote diantu (Please bless me and vote on conch symbol),” Patnaik said in Odia in what has become his signature speech in 2019 polls. As Hinjili baked under a scorching sun, the crowd at the Biju Patnaik square did not seem to mind the heat as it lustily cheered for him.

The Assembly elections are being held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in Odisha.

Patnaik who also heads the Bjiu Janata Dal (BJD), did not stay for more than five minutes and his hi-tech campaign bus rolled onto the next destination, but the 500-odd people who had waited to catch a glimpse of him, seemed enamoured. N Uma, a 25-year-old Telugu widow from nearby Pittala village seemed to be among the happiest. “I even missed my bus just to see him. He has done so much for Hinjili that one can’t be thankful enough. He is so popular that he can win without even campaigning here,” said Uma while others nodded in agreement.

Electing Patnaik consecutively since 2000, when he became chief minister, Hinjili is a semi-urban constituency in coastal Ganjam district is now virtually Odisha’s No 1 constituency. Spread over 21 gram panchayats and consisting of 57 villages, Hinjili has over 2.17 lakh voters who have been voting for Patnaik with increased vigour. In 2014, Hinjili voters elected Patnaik with 76586 votes, the fourth highest margin. So conclusive was his victory that all his opponents including those of the Congress and the BJP lost their security deposits. The winning margins have only increased with every election. In 2004, he won by 24,624 votes but that margin increased to 61,273 votes in 2009.

Also read: BJP hopes to make inroads in BJD stronghold in Odisha

“Once the chief minister started representing Hinjili, it has become a star constituency. The work he has done here in last 20 years speaks for itself,” said D Biswanath, chairman of Bhabandh panchayat Samiti.

Hinjili’s billing as star constituency is not without a basis. After Patnaik became its MLA, all the homes in Hinjili have piped drinking water facility, electricity connections and concrete toilets.

Largely a village some 20 years ago with narrow roads, Hinjili’s roads are well-paved including interior roads. It has three colleges and a Kendriya Vidyalaya. With 90 per cent of farmlands irrigated, Hinjili has become one of the biggest vegetable growing regions of the State with many taking up tuberose cultivation. A Farmer Producer Organisation of over 2000 farmers and a cold storage are on the anvil. Almost the entire the households have pucca houses either under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or the State government’s own housing scheme. Hinjili block won the Panchayat Sashaktikaran Purashakar, instituted by the union rural development ministry, in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

“If development is the criteria to elect a neta, then voting for Naveen Patnaik is a no-brainer. He has spruced up Hinjili from a sleepy region to a buzzing one,” said Jayant Padhi, who drives trucks all across the country.

Hinjili block development officer Prasanna Patra says being the chief minister’s constituency has its own advantages. “The coordination between various departments that is often a teething problem in completion of a developmental project is absent in Hinjili. The CM’s office takes lot of interest in development of the constituency,” said Patra.

While health facilities in Odisha leave much to be desired, the CM’s constituency has two community health centres and three primary health centres with no vacancy of doctors. In addition to it, Chennai-based charitable trust Sankar Eye Hospital in June 2016 started a 20-bed eye hospital at Hinjili, the biggest superspeciality hospital in southern Odisha. In 2018-19, the hospital treated around 56000 patients in its campus as well as various outreach camps. “We earn a lot of goodwill as 40 per cent of the OPD patients are not charged,” said hospital CEO Arabinda Mohanty, a former air commodore in the Indian Air Force. Many agree that in the process, Patnaik earns a lot of goodwill.

Once infamous for open defecation, Hinjili has put its past behind and is now an Open Defecation-free constituency with all its houses having toilets. A 100-bed hospital, a market complex, a high-tech bus stand, and modern fish market is being constructed in the constituency. It already has two mini stadiums and another one is being constructed. The Hinjili Notified Area Council was upgraded to municipality last year.

Though his victory from Hinjili in 2019 is assured, people in the constituency are concerned about his choosing Bijepur assembly constituency in Bargarh district as a second seat. “We understand he had to go to Bijepur to bolster BJD’s chances in western Odisha. But he has to choose one seat after election. Every time he comes to Hinjili, he announces something new for this place and it gets completed soon. If he leaves Hinjili, his successor may not match up to him,” said Rasika Sahu, a fruitseller.

Voting in both Hinjili and Bijepur Assembly seats will take place in the second phase on April 18. The result will be declared on May 23.

First Published: Apr 13, 2019 17:16 IST