Known to be a charismatic yet taciturn Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik(Reclusive Naveen cast himself in people’s moulds) stunned all at the recent Collectors’ Conference when he struck a chord with the people of Odisha. Sounding emotive, Patnaik referred to four crore people as ‘his family’.
Their interests were uppermost in his mind and bureaucrats were expected to work diligently to fulfill the people’s aspirations and commit themselves to upgrade the quality of their lives.
This is not the signature Naveen Patnaik that people have known for 20 years. In fact, the Chief Minister has scarcely made attempts to reach out to his electorate to save the occasions in electioneering.
He has always believed in the adage “The less you speak, the more you connect”. Patnaik has always let his performance do the talking. He has shied away from trumpeting his achievements.
What has led to the transition? Is it a contrived image makeover? Does Naveen wish to communicate a different theme to the people and fox his political adversaries? Or has 20 uninterrupted years of power mellowed him and his senility taking over his canny composure?
A political commentator observes, “Naveen is acutely aware of his failing health though he poses to be super fit before media shutterbugs. His failing health is spurring him to root for a more emotional connection with the people. In the absence of a succession plan with the Chief Minister mute on his heir apparent, it’s a wily strategy to grab people’s mind space”.
At the Collectors’ Conference, Patnaik urged all ministers and officers attending the conference to take a vow that read, “People are the soul of democracy. Every institution of democracy has been built for the people’s welfare with their money and aimed at serving and strengthening them. The police stations, hospitals, and offices are running to serve people and they are the real owners of these facilities. When people visit these facilities, they ought to be treated with civility and utmost dignity. People constitute the real government and all who are employed with the government are drawing their salaries out of the people’s money”.
At the recent ‘Krushi Odisha 2020’ conclave, said that relentless efforts by the farmers have enhanced the stature of the state. Inaugurating Krushi Odisha 2020 here on Monday, Patnaik said the agrarian community is the backbone of the nation and the economy and added that the development of agriculture will provide the farming class much-needed impetus for growth and development.
Patnaik said: “I always wanted that the farmers of my state live in dignity. They should remain ahead of others”.
With the Opposition BJP in disarray and the Congress still to wriggle out of intra-party skirmishes, the timing of Naveen Patnaik’s latest masterstroke could not have been better.