State Spokesperson (BJD)
Q: What does politics mean for you?
A: To me it is the most effective platform for public service if one utilises it genuinely and honestly. When done in a party structure, it provides a collective force with ample diverse skills which can be utilise to identify, find and implement solutions on a variety of social issues.
Q: You are not a stereo-typical or a career politician. What inspired you to take up the profession?
A: From the start of my career, I always wanted to take a retirement at the age of 45. Then do what I enjoy doing and one of the things I always had in mind was to give back to the society that has given me so much in life. I have also allowed life to flow its own natural course, never tried to limit it with self-inflicted boundaries. Around 42, I observed that my life started automatically changing its course again. One thing lead to another and I was invited into the IAC movement from overseas, running the NRI wing. And before I could realise, I was in the profession, was running election campaigns, building teams in multiple states and my associations with some very genuine, positive and constructive politicians taught me the tricks of the trade. So, it was a natural progression and I allowed it to happen, kept faith that God makes us do things with a purpose in mind.
Q: You came from very senior Corporate and Government roles. How difficult did you find today’s political environment to cope with?
A: Both the environments are similar yet different in their own ways. It is similar that in both the worlds, you are given missions and you deliver against them to the best of your ability. Differences can be in the manner things get done and the delegation of authority. Authority in politics is not a formal authority until you are an elected representative or a part of the Government. One must learn how to use informal power to influence desired outcomes which requires a lot of trust winning. Once you have your team and the people who are the beneficiaries of your efforts on board, rest becomes easy. I have been blessed to have won the support of most of the people I have worked with, be internal party colleagues or the public I serve. It has been a positive journey.
Q: How do you get along with the top brass of your party?
A: BJD in Odisha has an amazing team. The clear directions from our top leadership, the skills of our colleagues, their passion for the betterment of our state and everyone’s hard work makes it a nice place to work in. Our top leadership respects genuine, honest and dedicated members and I have had an excellent run with all of them.
Q: What is your personal take on electoral and non-electoral politics and what in your career would be your preference?
A: Every role in politics ultimately ends up in serving the public. In electoral politics, the domain is specified and the work therefore becomes much more focused. In non-electoral politics, the scope is wider. It can range across geographical and can be cross-vertical depending on the requirements of people and the work assigned by the party. My preference, as discussed earlier, is to give back to my state in whichever manner the party sees fit and I find myself capable of.
Q: What would be your vision in politics?
A: I am not an institution by myself and therefore I can only talk about my vision. See, we make excellent legislations, policies and public schemes in India. What I have seen as one of the biggest lacuna in our political system, lies in implementations. I think lack of proper public awareness is one of the prime causes for that. What people don’t understand, they would embrace or support. There are many examples, and a current one is the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act of 2019. People were seen complying only when the enforcement was very strict and go back to their old habits, when there is no one looking. Enforcement is always very expensive for the Govt. What if, instead of bringing in a law overnight, we prepare people, make them understand the rationale behind it, its benefits to them individually and to the society at large, spend time in convincing them and bringing them on board? Wont that yield a much better intended outcome with lesser costs? One such excellent implementation was the modernisation, securing and beautifications around Sri Mandir, Puri. People were on board, they supported the development, even gave away their homes happily and the results are spectacular. The whole effort could be centred on the real work rather than wastage of time, efforts and expenses around law & order issues and litigations. It is a huge win-win for all. Another example is Mission Shakti in Odisha. More than 70 lakh women have come on board to make that program, one of the most successful programs of its kind in India and across the world, a huge success.
There are a few other areas for improvement such as this and my vision would be, if given the opportunity, to find solutions and help in embedding them into the system and ensure good policies and schemes get to the right beneficiaries and the true benefits are realised by people.
Q: How do you find your leader, the Hon CM Shri Naveen Patnaik?
A: He is a remarkable statesman indeed, in all aspects. His golden silence, his rock-solid intent for the state and his genuine hard work is exemplary. Today, wherever I go across India and I mention to people that I am from Odisha, the first thing they say is that you guys have an amazing CM. People within Odisha have so much faith in him, no other party or leader after he has become the CM, has been able to hold a candle to him. He has been elected 5 consecutive times by people as their preferred CM and that tells the whole story by itself. I have studied the journey of his life and starting with a wow, it’s one of the most interesting, intellectually stimulating and inspiring journeys I have come across. There is just so much to learn from him. I am truly honoured to be serving under his leadership.
Q: What pampers you beyond politics?
A: The list would be very long. I love to eat and hence love cooking too. I don’t publish but I write poems. I am an adventurist and there are many activities that I love, such as, martial arts, 4WD off-road driving, scuba diving etc. I love good music, sing a little too. In summary, I don’t seek a specific thing to be happy or pamper myself. I find whatever is available at the time and make that an enjoyment of the moment.
Written By- Dibyajit Sahu
Image Source- InterviewTimes