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Odisha CM's Tamil aide Pandian's ambition 'poses challenge' to BJP, Congress leaders

By Sudhansu R Das 

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s close aide, VK Pandian, who is now the chairman of Nabin Odisha (a government welfare scheme) and 5T (transformational initiatives) questioned the ability of Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister’s ability to create employment opportunities in his own constituency. 
While addressing a public meeting on the central minister’s home turf at Badasantri in Angul district, Pandian raised concern over the lack of development in the region despite Pradhan’s presence in the Central Ministry. 
The newly inducted former Tamil bureaucrat Pandian has been hopping around the state with development schemes, construction projects and programmes worth hundreds of crores of rupees; he has been distributing those things to people at a rapid pace and silently projects himself as Naveen’s successor in the state. 
 How to stop Pandian’s march to popularity and conceive a state specific development model for inclusive growth is the biggest challenge before the BJP and the Congress leaders.
Economic observers say many of the mega development projects are not beneficial to people vis a vis the expenditures. Recently, the state has constructed 90 indoor stadiums in some districts where those stadiums will be under utilized and the maintenance cost of those sports infrastructure will add to the state’s expenditure. Anybody opposing those projects is quickly branded as anti development. 
Development projects are needed but those projects should create inclusive growth opportunities in the state. The state’s revenue should be judiciously used to build those projects. There should be dedicated environmental, social and financial appraisal of the projects.
The Hyderabad metro rail has reportedly incurred a huge loss of Rs 1,746 crore in 2020-21 and has a debt burden of Rs 13,000.00 crore. The yearly loss works out to approximately Rs 2000 crore. The majority of Hyderabadis can’t afford to travel by metro rail daily due to the high cost of the tickets. One has to walk or ride half to one kilometer to reach the metro station. 
 There is no adequate parking facility for the commuters. After metro rail was operational in Hyderabad, the pressure of traffic on roads has increased by ten times. The metro pillars have narrowed the road space and caused traffic congestion leading to waste of fuel, increase in the number of accidents and damage to vehicles. 
 The Odisha government should not go ahead with the metro project in Bhubaneswar which is too small a city in comparison to Hyderabad; the paying capacity of people in Odisha is very low.
Absence of strong Odia leaders with deep understanding of the economic activities in the state has allowed politico business agents to exploit the state. Chief Minister Naveen Pattanaik should induct quality officers who can protect the key economic sectors in the state. The centrist party, Congress has to find a young grassroots level leader who can survive in the heat and dust of Odisha politics. 
Development projects are needed but those projects should create inclusive growth opportunities in the state
Similarly, the BJP has to hunt for a strong and credible leader for Odisha who can save Odisha’s economic interests. The lone BJP MP, Aparajita Sadangi is capable of boosting BJP’s image in Odisha. The former IAS officer, Aparajita Sadangi is intellectually strong, energetic and has a deep understanding on different economic, social and cultural issues of the state. 
BJP loses time and initiative by not allowing her to take charge of the state. Empty speeches, filmy gestures, physical appearance and stylish attires seldom win elections. BJP in Odisha can’t depend on PM Modi's popularity only to win the election.
Lack of grassroots level information is a handicap for the opposition leaders. A few leaders in the state can tell how many rivers have lost their streams and how many have disappeared and how many are polluted. A few will tell how many people from different districts of Odisha have migrated to other states for menial work. 
Nobody can give a clear picture of the labour shortage in different districts. There is no authentic data on the agricultural land which has not been used for decades. There is no data available on the theft and damage of idols in the ancient temples of Odisha. A few leaders have developed an action plan to prevent the economic damage due to multiple dams built on Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh.
The farmer’s income in Odisha is the second lowest in India; Odisha ranks 27th among the 28 states in farmers’ income as per the NSSO study. Tigers and elephants in the state have been killed in large numbers; the scope of wildlife tourism has been scuttled; the poachers have a free run in the state. Deforestation, air pollution, ground water pollution and food adulteration is very high in the state. 
This is high time for all Odia leaders, educated youth and the intellectual class to converge on one issue “how to protect the economic interest of the state.”

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