THE TRUST FACTOR
Keeping things black and white, rather than getting stuck in grey areas, has helped the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha
By SUNJOY HANS
Last month when the Government of Odisha removed senior IPS officer BK Sharma as DGP of the state only three months after he was appointed to the top police post, many tongues began wagging. But soon after it became common knowledge that the move followed the commencement of a high-level probe against Sharma, who was also holding the post of Fire Service DG, for alleged non-compliance of government instructions on fire safety clearances, the shock and confusion over the apparently controversial decision subsided fairly quickly – despite the opposition’s concerted efforts to discredit the Biju Janata Dal and its chief over the issue.
Things turned out the way they did on this matter because of two main reasons: one, the Naveen Patnaik administration’s long-standing policy of zero-tolerance for corruption; and two, the recently introduced and rigorously implemented Mo Sarkar initiative as an integral part of the BJD government’s 5T model of governance.
Keeping things black and white, rather than getting stuck in grey areas, has helped the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha not only retain the trust of its people but also achieve progress in a challenge-ridden state at an ever-faster pace over the past 19-plus years that he has – uninterruptedly – been in power.
This is an approach that the Bharatiya Janata Party will do well to follow if it hopes to sustain and build on the political success it achieved over the past half a decade.
The saffron party has been dealing with unpleasant news from almost all sides. The biggest setback has to be the one that came from Maharashtra. While the BJP played every trick in – and outside – the political playbook to retain power in the state that many deem to be the economic engine of the country, it managed to do so only for a few fleeting hours before rival political parties turned the tables.
Many political commentators noted that the manner in which the four-day-old Devendra Fadnavis government came into being did little to highlight the BJP’s commitment to constitutional democracy. Others pointed out that the post-assembly elections drama in Maharashtra gave credence to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s accusation about the West Bengal governor being hand in glove with the saffron party to undermine her position of authority ahead of the coming elections in that state.
The BJP government at the Centre is facing heat on the environmental front as well, with the Supreme Court rebuking it for not doing enough to address the problem of rising pollution that is not only degrading the quality of life in the national capital but also taking a serious toll on the health of its residents.
What is worse, the apex court – having recently assumed a bold, proactive avatar in response to the prevailing political climate in the country – also seems to have begun looking at the way the Narendra Modi government is handling the Kashmir issue with increasing scrutiny.
Having lost as many as five states in assembly elections held over the past year, the BJP leadership has its work cut out to not just reverse the party’s ever-slimming edge over rivals, but also gain some essential public trust and credibility that it might have lost along the way.