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Prasanna Mishra

The political advisors who planned a Hero’s welcome for the Chief Minister of the state from not distant national capital looked highly naive in opting for such a programme. Award for Naveen Patnaik is not a new event. People all over the globe have been eager to honour this leader for his unique style of governance and for the wonderful transformation his ability has brought about to the land of 45 million people he has been ruling over for over two decades. He has taken pains to keep the economic progress humble. People are immensely happy with freebies. Their expectations have been trimmed. They have been made to learn to celebrate non-events. 

The education sector remains lacklustre; thousands of children are missing, rate of conviction in women atrocity-related cases continues to be dismal. Some foreign media, however, routinely praise Government’s performance on disaster management. What the publicity craze does not take into account is that many people abroad would like to portray the plight of poverty stricken people fleeing homes for shelter at the approach of a cyclone. Why thousands of people would not have a safe house of their own till now, is never an issue. Many civil society organizations, however, continue to bestow honour on the Chief Minister for his qualities of head and heart. 

What was then so special about the honour conferred on him by an organization like the Capital Foundation? This organization has been honouring persons regularly. In 2013, for example, it honoured Jaipal Reddy, Arun Jaitley, Lalit Bhasin, Vijay Panjwani for their contribution in different fields, ranging from Environment to Science, Technology & Public Service. This year’s Awardees included Rohan Jaitley, son of Arun Jaitley. 

The large turnout of people to welcome the Chief Minister seems to have been elaborately organized. Police Superintendents of nearby districts had been directed to regulate inflow of traffic to Bhubaneswar. This controlled arrangement led to traffic hold-ups on highways leading to the Capital City. Crowds swelled inside the city resulting in traffic going chaotic. Small children returning home from schools got delayed and went hungry. Ambulance services at some places were affected. 

Chief Minister’s residence is close by, just about 300 metres from the Arrival Lounge of the Airport. A small delegation from each district with party flags and welcome banners should have been waiting for the Chief Minister at the Airport; if at all an appropriate welcome was considered necessary. Why this was not done is not difficult to appreciate. 

Political strategists wanted to convert the 'lifetime achievement' felicitation into a political event of gargantuan proportion. For them, the human misery and suffering such uncontrolled city seize leads to was of little concern. They needed to convey that show of arrogance is what political power is about. It is another matter that the Government swears by Gandhiji’s Talisman- “Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.” 

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author can be reached at lonewalker.1942@gmail.com)

More From The Author: Mitigating Traffic Congestion In Bhubaneswar 

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