Shreerupa Mitra-Jha | November 7, 2014
Jual Oram, the union minister for tribal affairs, is a veteran Odisha politician who created history when he became the first tribal affairs minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He was a face-saver for the BJP in Odisha in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning the lone seat in the state. Oram discusses the Naveen government and the Odisha BJP with Shreerupa Mitra-Jha. Excerpts:
Why has BJP not been able to make effective inroads in Odisha?
That might be true in terms of seats, we have only my seat from Sundergarh constituency, but in terms of votes we have had a 130-percent increase. In 2009, we got only 20 lakh votes, but this time we increased that to 46 lakh. Last time, we finished third in all the seats but this time we have 10 seats in the assembly election. So definitely there was an impact of the Modi wave in the state. But we have to focus on the organisational structure and capitalise on it.
Also read: A look at what makes Naveen Patnaik tick, and hold back BJP
How would you describe Naveen Patnaik’s style of governance?
Naveen-babu’s is a fruitless form of governance. In terms of administration, it is the most corrupt: in Odisha, corruption has not gone down, law and order has failed, the Maoist menace has gone up. And all this has happened in the last 14 years. There are two reasons why the Naveen government has managed to survive. The first is that during the BJP-BJD alliance in Odisha, BJP did not pay attention to its own vote base, support base, or organisational structure. At the same time, Pyari Mahapatra very shrewdly consolidated the BJD base. That was a major fault of BJP and I admit it. So when BJD grew in strength, they kicked us out.
Second, the opposition factors are very weak. The central and state leaderships of Congress lacked coordination between them. Therefore, the opposition space went down fast, which is why there is little opposition today. It’s a one-sided play (for) Naveen. The BJP is trying to build an opposition space but since BJP is a national party, there is possibly a lack of proper assessment at the state-level. So Naveen’s success has nothing to do with his style of governance but only because the opposition factors are so weak.
Why is the BJP leadership not so vocal about the Odisha scams? Is it because it wants BJD support in the Rajya Sabha?
We are vocal. We want a CBI inquiry into the mining (scam). Perhaps we are speaking in multiple voices and that is why people are getting confused.
The interview appeared in November 1-15, 2014 issue
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