Survey Results Showing Naveen Patnaik as the Best Performing Chief Minister and better performance of non BJP Chief Ministers have Implications for National Politics
It has been widely reported in media across the country on 16th January 2021 that Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik is the best performing Chief Minister followed by Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Jagan Mohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh. Such reports were based on IANS and C voter survey. It also shows that Chief Minister of West Bengal Shrimati Mamata Banerjee is quite popular in the State with her huge support base intact. One of the noteworthy revelations of the survey is that “Seven out of the 10 most popular Chief Ministers are from the Opposition parties while seven out of the 10 worst performing Chief Ministers are from the BJP/NDA camp”. The results of the survey made headlines in print, digital and electronic media and it provided an important framework to view the state of politics in the country.
Naveen Patnaik rated as the best performing Chief Minister in the country testifies to the quality of his resilient and constructive leadership embodying the politics beyond the binary of power and politics and embracing in its scope the wider social and humanitarian causes. In 2019 after he won elections in Odisha for a record fifth time with 42 percent of vote share and 113 of 147 assembly seats I had written an article in that Biju Janata Dal (BJD) by taking up a slew of humanitarian measures including the issue of greater representation of women in legislatures and fielding women candidates in seven out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 general elections has emerged as an idea and a movement in the State. It is quite educative to note that on the foundation day of BJD on 26th December 2020 Naveen Patnaik as its President delivered a speech centered around women’s empowerment and gender equality and stressed the point that BJD is a movement beyond the domain of power politics.
When the IANS and C Voter survey declaring him as the best performing Chief Minister made headlines across the country what commanded the attention is the image of Naveen Patnaik rooted in an integrated vision of political persuasion which embraces not only the quest for seeking the mandate of people but using it for larger transformation of society and promotion of well being of people.
In fact the IANS and C Voter Survey results declaring him as the most popular and best performing Chief Minister does not surprise many accomplished and experienced experts who have been involved in making such surveys in India for over several decades. One such nationally renowned experts is Ajit Jha who has the invaluable expertise of studying such surveys in the USA and conducting over 30 surveys in our country when he was working in India Today. Currently he is working in the renowned magazine, Outlook, as its Editor (Research). On taking note of the IANS survey declaring Naveen Patnaik as the most popular and best performing Chief Minister Ajit said that he was not at all surprised about it. When I asked him the reasons he revealed that in 30 such surveys he conducted while in India Today he found that invariably Naveen Patnaik always figured in top three positions and so he securing the first position in 2021 is nothing surprising. Such an observation of a nationally recognized expert on conducting surveys assumes significance in understanding and appreciating uninterrupted high rating merited by Naveen Patnaik. Securing recognition nationally and internationally has become a routine matter for him.
That is why his work and even statements are reported prominently in regional, national and international media. For instance the leading medical journal Lancet in an editorial “India Under COVID Lockdown” (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30938-7/fulltextj) appreciated Odisha for repurposing the measures taken to save human life from natural disasters to protect life and livelihood from COVID. The Government headed by Naveen Patnaik has been appreciated by the United Nations and international media for establishing high global benchmark of governance in managing disasters and ensuring almost zero human casualty. As he gets such high ratings he faces many challenges and interrogations. This is quite normal in politics and public life. The constructive spirit in which these interrogations are addressed by him and his party would constitute the momentum and dynamism of his politics which combines in it the soft power of persuasion and attraction and the power of reconciliation and accommodation.
The high rating Shri Patnaik has got as the best performing Chief Minister is a by product of his more than two decade old record of politics at the centre of which remains the art and architecture of governance which was best captured by editor in chief of the Tribune Shri Rajesh Ramachandran in his article “Beyond Manufactured Identities”. He wrote, “Naveen Patnaik has never practised the politics of caste or communal polarisation, nor does he belong to a numerically significant caste group, nor does Odisha have a sizeable Muslim population. Yet, he wins election after election defeating the BJP twice. That ought to be the new normal in Indian politics: victory for transformational politics.”
The above para captures the legacy which is being carried forward and which generates hope for the country to have a political persuasion beyond majoritarianism and polarization. Such politics registered victory in the recently held presidential elections in the USA and it is hoped that Odisha would lead the way in rest of India in ensuring the victory of such politics which the IANS and C Voter Survey captures.