Chief minister Naveen Patnaik flags off the Biju Gaon Gadi Yojana from the state secretariat in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 22: Ahead of the general election, the Naveen Patnaik government is sparing no opportunity to remind people of the legacy of former chief minister Biju Patnaik after whom the ruling party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), has been named.
Schemes and programmes are being named after the leader, father of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. The latest addition to the list of such programmes is the Biju Gaon Gadi Yojana — under which bus services will be provided in the interiors of the backward districts.
The chief minister, who is making a whirlwind tour to the state and inaugurating various programmes, today launched the new scheme at the state secretariat.
Under the Biju Gaon Gadi Yojana, the government will operate buses on 1,180 routes across 118 blocks in 12 districts — Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Balasore. Naveen flagged off the service online from the secretariat and a bus rolled on from Koraput. Under the scheme, the bus operators will be exempted from road tax and route permit tax. They will be given 5 per cent interest waiver for getting loan to purchase the buses.
“When Naveen was 16 years old, Biju babu named a house after his son. The house has since been known as Naveen Nivas. Now, his illustrious son has started paying back by naming schemes, awards, airports and university after him. There is nothing wrong in it. The Biju magic will continue even in this election,” said a senior BJD leader.
Though Biju Patnaik, a pilot-turned-freedom fighter, ruled the state for two terms, he commanded love and loyalty across the state. His detractors, too, grudgingly concede the point. Notwithstanding the elder Patnaik’s antipathy towards the BJP, even BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi evoked his charisma during electioneering in the state. Accusing Naveen of failing to carry out any development to fulfil the dreams of the late leader, Modi had said: “Had Biju babu lived, he would have been pained to see the plight of Odisha.”
BJD leaders do not see anything wrong in naming schemes after illustrious figures. “Naming schemes after him adds to the glory of Odisha. His name brings popularity to a scheme. We have also named schemes after other legendary sons of soil — Utkalmani Gopabandu Das and Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das,” said BJD’s general secretary Narendra Swain.
Opposition Congress and the BJP, however, are critical about it. Former Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said: “The BJD claims to be doing everything to translate Biju Babu’s dream into reality. But, we don’t exactly know what was his dream. They have named parks, roads and almost everything after Biju Patnaik. It seems he is the only leader worth emulating in Odisha.”
Senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said: “Keeping the elections in view and apprehending defeat, one after another scheme is being launched to influence the voters. Most schemes launched by the state government have flopped and the people of Odisha are intelligent enough to understand the game plan of the chief minister.”
State BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari said: “There is no doubt that Biju babu was a great man. But, we also should recall contribution of other sons of the soil such as Birsa Munda and Veer Surendra Sai. Naming each scheme after only one persons is nothing but paying disrespect to other sons of the soil.”