20 points where Naveen govt stands after a year

Bhubaneswar: If you think reaching the 12-month mark in his 4th term for Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik was simply an opportunity, think twice. It was a challenge as well, as the year gone by was full of apprehensions and controversies.

The incumbent government starts to be measured on its own terms. Let’s check the points which earned laurels for the government.

Patnaik heaved a sigh of relief on April 7 when Supreme Court rejected a special leave petition (SLP) filed against him alleging his involvement in Talabira coal block allocation. The apex court even imposed a heavy fine on the petitioner for wasting the court’s time.

The arrest of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda in July last year was a big achievement for the Naveen government. Panda is suspected to be involved in high-profile crimes like assassination of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and the abduction of two Italian tourists, among many others.

Patnaik played a masterstroke by increasing the retirement age of government employees from 58 to 60 years. The decision would benefit about 4 lakh employees in the State.

The formation of a task force to probe irregularities in the allocation of flats, plots and houses under discretionary quota was a formidable task for the BJD government.

The launch of ‘Niramaya’ scheme for distribution of medicines to all free of cost at government hospitals was another step which popularised his government that claims to be pro-people.

Taking a leaf out of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha’s popular welfare schemes, when Patnaik started the Rs 5 meal scheme for urban poor last month, it invited criticism from many quarters. But it was a success taking the floating population to the cities.

The announcement of Biju Expressway connecting Rourkela and Jagdalpur through four districts of western Odisha and Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region was itself a laudable initiative.

Bhubaneswar registered a place in international hockey when it smoothly conducted Champions Trophy in December last year in which eight countries had participated.

To encourage sportsmanship, the State government declared police service for medalists in national and international events.

Now picture this, what earned embarrassment for Naveen government during the year:

The involvement of ruling party leaders, MLAs and MPs in the multi-crore chit fund scam had marred the ‘clean’ image of the Naveen government in which the CBI had arrested former advocate-general Ashok Mohanty.

The row over climbing on the chariots last year had put the State government on backfoot as Puri Sankaracharya Nischalanand Saraswati too had chosen not to climb the chariot during car festival.

The Centre-State row over the location for setting up of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Odisha is yet to be over as the former is still buying time on the issue, for which the Naveen government has drawn flak.

To complete the construction of Nabakalebar projects in time has become the biggest challenge for the State government as Opposition parties raise doubt over timely completion of the work.

Naveen government’s decision to raise the reservation of SC/ST students in government educational institutions to 38 per cent has invited criticism from the students across the State.

The State government quoted controversy after former Odisha DGP Prakash Mishra alleged that the Vigilance case was registered against him at the behest of the chief minister.

Shortage of potato, which hit the common men the most, was the State government’s ‘biggest’ failure in containing price rise.

The suicide of a nursing student in Gajapati district who failed to receive stipend from the government despite several reminders, was another setback for the government.

Last but not the least, the BJD government’s stand on Modi govenment’s land acquisition Bill has drawn sharp criticism from opposition Congress.