**Bhubaneswar:** Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik has been the Chief Minister of Odisha consecutively for the fourth time since 2000 as there is no alternative (TINA) to him either from the main opposition Congress or BJP even amid the Modi magic in 2014 general elections.
Though the Modi wave had spelt magic on large parts of the country in 2014 elections, one State that had appeared untouched was Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha. BJD has registered a thumping victory not only in the 147 Assembly seats, but has also clinched 20 out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats.
Akin to Jayalalitha’s Tamil Nadu and Mamata’s West Bengal, Naveen had ducked the Modi wave in the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in 2014. Compared to the 2009 elections when BJD had won 38.8 per cent votes, the party in 2014 has won 43 per cent of the total votes, as per the statistics.
As per poll pundits, there has been certain popular scheme(s) implemented by the Naveen Patnaik Government proving to be blessing in disguise for maintaining the people’s trust in him and enabling him to retain power. A glaring case in point was the Re 1 rice sop in the 2014 elections. Re 1-a-kg rice scheme is believed to have endeared him to the women in the inflationary times then.
What has also kept the Naveen poll victory wheels rolling for the past 18 years is his steady focus on women and tribal development. Schemes like ‘Mamata’, under which pregnant and lactating women are given financial assistance and also financial assistance for over 5 lakh women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Naveen has managed to build a formidable votebank among women, argue the political analysts.
The results of 2014 election evince that 11 per cent more women voted compared to 2009 polls and BJD partymen had claimed that a bulk of the votes was reaped by their party. Even the voting percentage had touched a high in tribal-dominated districts of Mayurbhanj (82 per cent), Nabrangpur (82 per cent) and Bolangir (73 per cent) and even in Keonjhar for which a newcomer like Shakuntala Laguri has registered a suprise win for the Lok Sabha seat in 2014.
Also Naveen’s popularity soared the way cyclone Phailin had been handled in 2013 October by his Government. The evacuation work and subsequent response had earned more accolades for Naveen and his BJD.
This time too, the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) could be the gamechanger in the 2019 general elections as it is again meant for the low income group. Even the free healthcare coverage annual amount of Rs 5 lakh has been enhanced to Rs 7 lakh exclusively for the women of each beneficiary family amounting to 70 lakh families.
In his reactions, senior journalist Bipin Singh said, “Whatever programmes and schemes are being implemented by the State Government here, the people are being benefitted as well as the aim and objective of the party (BJD) is being served. The aim of the party is to win election.”
“Health is such a subject that involves all, both the poor and rich. Such a scheme can woo one and all. That’s why this Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. If this scheme works successfully, its popularity will be more than the Re 1-a-kg rice scheme. The Re 1 rice is accessible to limited number of people while Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana will benefit all,” he opined.
He commented, “It all depends how far it works succefully. If the State Government implements it successfully, it’ll definitely reap benefits.”
“When YSR Reddy was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, he had first introduced 108 Ambulance. His State Government’s popularity rose so high that the then UPA Government at the Centre had to implement it all India. YSR is the prime mover behind 108 Ambulance service. He had given priority to the health sector in such a way that the people there started worshipping him as god,” the senior journalist explained.
Another senior journalist Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra said, “As the Re 1 rice scheme was announced prior to the 2014 elections, the announcement of Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana has also been done similarly. Obviously it is meant for wooing the people’s votes. Time will prove how far it would benefit politically. But this (Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana) will definitely influence the general public. The scheme is in fact of noble nature. But its success depends on its practical utility. And such an announcement obviously impacts the elections.”
“In a welfare state, the Government’s prime duty is provide the basic amenities to the people. As it is a health programme, it is also a basic need. It is a commendable step. Same is the Food Security Act. It ensures that no one dies of starvation. This health scheme also tries to ensure that no one dies of a disease without treatment and healthcare facility. Thus, this Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana is a milestone,” the senior scribe remarked.
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