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Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik

Many years ago, when the legendary Biju Patnaik was chief minister, in an interview that lasted nearly two hours, I asked: “Biju Babu, I travelled across the state over a month and found Orissa very well-endowed in terms of natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, diamonds and plenty of water. How do you manage to keep it so poor?” This veteran political leader heartily laughed and pointed to efforts to accelerate growth.

His son, US-educated Navin Patnaik, a bachelor, has been among the most popular of the state’s leaders. His Biju Janatal Dal won 20 seats out of 21 in the recent Lok Sabha polls and 119 seats out of 144  in the assembly elections and has returned to power for the fourth time with a comfortable majority.

The BJD government has formulated a large number of mega projects.  Most notable among these are the steel plants of Posco and the Tatas. These have been suffering enormous delays on account of environmental clearances and opposition from the locals on land procurement issues. These have potential to create jobs in thousands apart from contributing to the revenues of the state. The Dhamra Port built by the Tatas and L&T, that could transform the hinterland of northern Odisha, is languishing. Close liaison with the Centre would certainly help. Patnaik can consider offering support from outside to the Modi government and work on coordinated development of this resource-rich state.

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