Op-Ed: Will Naveen’s Tips For Good Governance Work?

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: In his fifth coming as the chief minister of Odisha, Naveen  Patnaik has donned the role of teacher for his ministers and MLAs. He has been imparting tips to make them better people’s representatives and administrators.

In his first meeting with the newly elected Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislators he advised them to shun all kinds of ostentation and earn the respect of people by leading simple lives. Now he has counselled his ministers to make extensive tours and get feedback from people on the various schemes of the government. This, he believes, will help improve the quality of governance.

“Embark on extensive tours. This will help you know about your department’s service delivery at the grassroots level. Make surprise visits to the different offices and institutions under your department. This will expedite the delivery of government services meant for the people,” Patnaik is reported to have told his ministers.

The Chief Minister has also been laying emphasis on 5Ts — transparency, technology, teamwork, transformation and time—his new mantra for good governance. All this sounds good in theory. But the problem lies in implementation and monitoring.

For example, who does not know that MLAs and ministers should keep in touch with the people who have elected them and try to ensure that government schemes are implemented properly. Getting regular feedbacks is equally important. But who can guarantee that the feedbacks obtained by these people’s representatives are actually honest.

There is no doubting the intent of the chief minister who having been elected to the high office for the fifth time in a row is keen to ensure that people get the best possible governance under him. But a leader is as good as him team. So the success of his endeavours would depend upon the sincerity of his ministers and party MLAs who have their own political compulsions.

In the past there have been allegations galore about BJD workers being the main beneficiaries of several government schemes being implemented in the rural areas. They were also alleged to have cornered major work contracts. If the allegations are true this must have happened with the active support and patronage of party MLAs and ministers.

Is it really possible to change this trend suddenly? Politicians being politicians cannot be expected to behave like saints. Like most of us they, too, are driven by selfish motives and need to keep their supporters happy with favours big or small from time to time.  After all they are in the business of contesting elections which cannot be won without creating a band of loyalists who expect favours from their patrons.

That being the harsh reality one wonders how far BJD MLAs and ministers will be able to follow the advice of Patnaik who, of course, seems keen on monitoring the performance of his wards closely. Monitoring makes for accountability and if the chief minister can ensure that it will be a big achievement and a major step towards good governance. But it is a big if.

(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.)