Bureaucracy doesn’t run Odisha, it’s me & my ministers who do: Naveen

Bhubaneswar: Amid growing perceptions that Odisha is being run by the bureaucrats led by a coterie, Odisha CM and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik today categorically refuted such charges. Terming it as a misconception, Patnaik said that it’s the government, ministers and him who are running the State.

In an interview with the managing editor of NDTV Sreenivasan Jain, Patnaik, when asked on the regular cry about bureaucrats running Odisha, said, “I think it’s nonsensical. The cry about bureaucrats has always been there, from 2000 onwards.” It’s the government, the ministers and me who run the State, Patnaik clarified.

Patnaik later threw light on the panchayat poll debacle in 2017 and said, “We were careless during that election and made up steadily after that. First of all, I did not campaign and none of our party leaders took it seriously. We remedied that and are now ready to fight it out.”

Responding to a query on whether big leaders including Jay Panda leaving the party (BJD) will have any impact, the CM said, “As long as 4.5 crore Odisha people are with us, leaders leaving us is not a problem. He (Jay Panda) has overriding ambitions and is in a hurry. His ambition was to take my post.”

The CM further said that his party has maintained the policy of equidistance even though he considers BJP-led NDA as a ‘bigger threat’ than the Congress. However, there’s no great threat from BJP in Odisha, he said. “We will support anyone who is for the best advantage of Odisha. Our policy is to remain equidistant from the BJP and Congress. So we will see whether, indeed it’s doubtful, we join up either of them.”

Targeting PM Modi, Naveen Patnaik stated that employment programmes have fallen flat, rural economy problems are huge and so are the financial issues.

Patnaik ruled out that the recent Balakot air strikes would provide any advantage to BJP in the elections. “I understand that’s quite fizzled out now. Now, it’s back to normal politics.”

On his political successor, Naveen said, “I am still quite fit and people, at the appropriate time, will chose the leader.” He, however, stated that his sister Geeta Mehta has never been interested in politics.

Interestingly, Patnaik took a step ahead to silence the rising criticism over his ‘failure to communicate with people in Odia’. Responding to a question on whether he is finding it challenging to speak in Odia, Naveen said, “No, not anymore, I am quite fluent in Odia. My critics are all wrong about it.” The CM also said that Jay Panda joined the BJD when he became the Rajya Sabha member and the latter was not a founding member of the party.

On Patnaik’s comments that his ambition was to take CM’s post, Jay Panda clarified that he had served 18 years in the Parliament without seeking any government post and neither does have any right now. He also went on to say that the CM’s OSD has already confirmed about his role in founding the party.