Challenges Before Maiden BJP Govt In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Registering a historic victory in recent elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stormed to power in Odisha for the first time, putting an end to the 24-year rule of Biju Jnata Dal (BJD). The new government is all set to be sworn-in at a grand event in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. As the electoral mandate in favour of BJP was apparently the outcome of strong resentment against BJD, people of the state now have great expectations from the saffron party government. The new government would have to grapple with a host of challenges, including corruption and growing unemployment.

Transparency In Governance

BJD remained at the helm and ruled the state for the last 24 years without break. The Naveen Patnaik-led government decided the shape and contours of the administrative and bureaucratic arrangements in accordance with its own style. It was often alleged that bureaucrats were more powerful than the elected people’s representatives and the Naveen Patnaik government had to face a lot of criticism from different quarters for this. It will now be an uphill task for the BJP government to keep the bureaucracy under its effective control and ensure transparency in governance. The first step in this direction will be the selection of a suitable chief secretary. Focus will also be on the post of the principal secretary to the Chief Minister. Reliable and loyal officers had been deployed in every sphere during BJD rule. The new BJP government will have to establish its grip over bureaucracy to be able to function in a smooth and efficient manner. Similarly, an able and efficient advocate general needs to be appointed for proper handling of different legal issues. An efficient director general of police (DGP) will be required to maintain law and order in the state.

Anti-Corruption Steps

During electioneering, BJP had mounted a scathing attack on BJD over mining scam and chit fund scandal. It accused the regional party of running a ‘mafia’ government in the state. BJP’s voice against corruption and scams promoted people to vote for it in the elections. After coming to power, BJP will have to meet people’s expectations and take firm action against corruption in all spheres. While Naveen Patnaik government came under attack over alleged favour to non-Odias, people will now keenly watch each and every move of BJP’s style of functioning. The new government can get various scams investigated by probe agencies like CBI and ED in order to win the trust of the people.

Comparison With Naveen Govt

It may not be smooth sailing for the BJP government to fully win the confidence of people who had been witnessing the work of Naveen Patnaik-led BJD for the last 24 years. They will now compare every action of the BJP government with that of BJD, which had introduced a slew of welfare schemes for the benefit of people. The way the new government handles schemes like BSKY and Mission Shakti will be under watch. BJP had announced that Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana will be implemented in Odisha and there is going to be debate on this. The new government will have to go through acid tests on daily basis. It will also be important to properly manage media and social media platforms.

Challenge From Strong Opposition

When BJD was in power, opposition parties lacked adequate number in the Assembly to be able to make their voice heard in the House. However, BJD will be a strong opposition as it is armed with 51 members in the Assembly to pose a major challenge to the BJP government. Congress with its 14 members will also corner the government on different issues. Numerical strength of the opposition will put the BJP government under constant pressure, both inside the Assembly and outside. BJD which has a very strong organisational base at the grassroots level will try to keep the new government at tenterhooks all the time. Though V P Pandian has announced retirement from active politics, he may continue to play major roles for BJD by working behind the scene. Therefore, BJP will have to work out effective strategies to deal with opposition onslaught.

Need To Act In Unison

While Naveen Patnaik all along remained the undisputed leader of BJD and wielded absolute power in the regional party, different groups are stated to be active in BJP. Delay in selection of Chief Minister has also given credence to such notion. If different power centres remain within the party, it may turn out to be a difficult task for the BJP government to effectively face the opposition. Therefore, after formation of the new government, BJP leaders must speak in one voice and act in unison. Any crack in BJP will provide undue advantage to BJD. Similarly, BJP needs to function in an independent manner and demonstrate that there is no interference from Central leaders. After winning the elections by making Odia Asmita its main poll plank, the saffron party needs to show it in action after forming government in the state. It needs to prepare a roadmap to effectively tackle the opposition challenge on all fronts in coming days.

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