On Double Engine Mode


When Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addressed the Top Mandarins of the State in a recent Video Meet as to how to scale up investment opportunities in the state, observers were clueless over his over bearing influence on the State Administration.

Who Is Who of Odisha Bureaucracy was in attendance and everybody was listening to Union Minister with rapt attention for over two long hours.

Gone are those days, when Mr.Pradhan even was not allowed to enter Capital High School premises to launch Swachha Bharat Mission and was forced to do it at Railway Station.

After One Year of Naveen 5.0, things have changed dramatically and now it is abundantly clear that “Double Engine” theory propelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then BJP President Amit Shah is pushing the State ahead.

Imagine Prime Minister landing up few hours after the Super Cyclone Amphan hit the State and announced Rs.500 Crore without the chief Minister asking for any advance assistance. And within 24 hours of announcement, funds landed in Odisha Treasury.

BJP’s face in Odisha Union Minister, Pradhan, who used to chide Odisha Government from airport itself till 2019 elections, has changed his policy and preferred to positively respond to Naveen’s calls, be it singing Bande Utkal Janani or talking to Chief Ministers for helping out Odia labourers in distress.

Whenever Chief Minister talked to his counterparts in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other States, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was there to coordinate the talks and assuring the Central Support for the migrant labors and assistance from Indian Railways.

This is part of Naveen’s new strategy and this has been helpful for the state to certain extent like sanction of funds for natural disasters, to some extent railway expansion, but the state’s long standing demand of special category status, focus state tag, Mahanadi, Polavaram disputes remained ignored.

The regional party within one year of its 5th term has never bothered to raise the issue while during the time, has been inclined not only to the Central Government, but also the Bharatiya Janata Party.

When Naveen gifted a Rajya Sabha seat to BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnaw, the doubt over the BJD-BJP bonhomie was clear. The BJD stand for BJP, may be at the cost of its own political interest.

But, what has bothered all including “mute” leaders of BJD is that the party has been losing its regional flavor, which helped it to win successive elections even when the Modi wave surged the entire nation.

It is a fact that BJD is not a national party like BJP, Congress or left parties. It is purely a regional outfit and its roots, leaves, branches, flower, fruit and everything is rooted in Odisha. Once the party lose its regional flavor, even Naveen himself may not be able to save the Modi wave, feel observers.

Many senior leaders, who hardly have any say anything on the policy of the regional party since 2019, feel frustrated and preferred to remain silent as Naveen changed the party’s policy.

Odisha’s BJD Government is more or less considered to be the double engine. The people of Odisha rejected Modi’s call to install a “Double Engine” government, which means a BJP Government in Odisha and a Saffron Government in Delhi as well.

But the people supported the Regional BJD and elected 113 MLAs of the state’s total 147 member House. The BJP could manage to get just 23 seats though it increased its vote share in the state.

The Congress was further reduced and given single digit 09 seats in Assembly.

The party has been voted to power five consecutive times in a row since 2000 and never faced any defeat either in the State Assembly or the Lok Sabha elections held in Odisha for two decades.

However, Naveen’s fifth tem which completed its first year in office recently, appeared have forgotten its pledges made before the people of the state. Being a regional party inspired by ideology of late Biju Patnaik, BJD promised its only goal as the development of Odisha. No doubt, the BJD has achieved development in the state in different sectors, but appeared to be losing its regional tag.

The party is no more hitting the streets over common people’s issues and indulged in anti-Centre bashing, which made the BJD going in the state. All along there has been an impression that the BJD and its leaders are fighting for Odias in Dilli Durbar and also keeping the national parties like Congress and BJP, away from power in the state. There were also days when people have heard Naveen calling the BJP as “communal” and the Congress as “ocean of corruption.”    

Situation is changed now as BJD dropped its “equi-distance” policy. The ruling party took a decision that the BJD will support any government at the centre which supports Odisha and its people. In that context, the BJD has become more close to the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But, what has surprised many is that Modi though could not install a saffron government in the state, and now been getting all out support from BJD which should have come from a government being formed by his own party. Modi got double engine after Naveen agreed to support both the BJP and the Central government. But, the people of Odisha, who had rejected Modi’s double engine call, now have started realizing what could have been the difference had they voted the Lotus symbol in assembly elections too?

Biggest beneficiary is Dharmendra Pradhan, who is now a darling of the Government Officials and BJD Lawmakers also.

In the process, there should be no doubt that the BJP is certainly gaining politically as it has been successful in stripping BJD’s regional tag. And Mr.Pradhan has made serious inroads into BJD.

Once the BJD loses its basic nature, it will turn out to be as good as any other political party. Meanwhile, Naveen has emerged as the most popular Chief Minister in the country and his image continue to remain intact. But, the friendship with BJP is likely to take away regional flavor of BJD. Insiders in BJD feel restless as they feel that party is falling to meet regional aspiration, and slowly losing its own identity.

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