Op-Ed: Democracy Needs Constructive Opposition

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: It is the job of Opposition to criticize but criticism must be constructive and aimed at enhancing the quality of governance. Blind opposition is the biggest threat to democracy. Unfortunately in Odisha certain sections of the Opposition have begun to show this tendency. They find nothing right with the Naveen Patnaik government which has launched a number of pro-people and pro-poor initiatives during the nearly two decades of its un-interrupted rule in the state.

Leaders of both Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have launched a tirade against the government’s latest initiative, ‘Mo Sarkar’ aimed at making the administration more accountable and responsive. The chief minister, who has just begun his fifth term at the helm, is determined to implement the programme at all police stations and district headquarters hospitals in the first phase. This will be followed by its execution by various government departments.

As part of the initiative people can expect telephone calls from the chief minister himself to know about the response they have been getting from police stations and the kind of service they have been receiving at the hospitals. His ministers would seek the feedback of people on their experience at government offices.

On the face of it seems to be an excellent initiative that can strengthen the bond between the people and the government. If implemented sincerely it will not only make the administration more responsive but also more responsible. Even if the programme achieves partial success it would be help improve the quality of governance.

Opposition leaders, however, have been quick to train their guns at the government with some taking aim at chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s Achilles heel—his poor Odia. Taunting the chief minister for his deficient Odia one of them raised doubts over the implementation of the programme. He also found Patnaik’s claims about redressing people’s grievances on the health front untrustworthy as the state government is yet to implement the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme.

Both the criticisms are invalid. We all know that Patnaik’s Odia has been the favourite target of his political opponents who have repeatedly sought to run him down on this issue during the elections. But all such attempts have backfired with people voting the Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to power again and again. This proves beyond a shadow of doubt that for the people of the state Patnaik’s governance is much more important than his knowledge of Odia. Besides, we all know that while Patnaik’s Odia is still not good enough for him to deliver a full length speech he can easily converse with the people in the language.

As for the charge of Odisha not having adopted Ayushman Bharat so far it is more of a political issue which BJP has been trying to amplify in the hope of putting pressure on the state government which has steadfastly maintained that its own health scheme, Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY), is good enough to take care of the people of the state.

It is time the Opposition changed its attitude and learnt also to look at the positive side of things. Too much negativity is detrimental to the health of democracy.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are 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.)