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The development-oriented focus of the BJP inspired me: Aparajita Sarangi

Amiti Sen Bhubaneswar | Updated on April 16, 2019

New Delhi: Former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi joins Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of BJP President Amit Shah, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov 27, 2018. (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)(PTI11_27_2018_000016B)   -  AP

The BJP’s candidate for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat explains why she believes that the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) model of governance has failed.

It took several rounds of intense discussions with her family before Aparajita Sarangi could decide to quit the IAS and take a plunge into politics. Sarangi is the BJP’s candidate for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat. In an interview with BusinessLine, she explains why she believes that the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) model of governance has failed and it is time for a political change. Edited excerpts:

What made you give up IAS to join politics? How difficult was it to make the choice?

As an IAS officer, I had the best of postings in Odisha and Delhi. But after 20-25 years of service, I realised not much was left to derive from IAS. I had to begin a new journey and I thought politics would give me a bigger platform to serve the people. During my tenure as Joint Secretary for MGNREGA scheme, I toured 25 States and 450 districts. Wherever I went, Odisha was being associated with poverty. This was the tipping point. But the decision to join politics took thinking and consultations with my family.

Why did you choose the BJP?

I think Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a great leader as I have worked under him as Joint Secretary for MGNREGA. The development-oriented focus of the BJP inspired me. I was not motivated enough by the Congress. And I couldn’t have left the IAS to go to a regional party. And, I never derived inspiration from the CM (Naveen Patnaik).

Is Naveen Patnaik still popular among the poor?

No. Earlier, the people had no alternative. But now, times have changed and people want change.

Do you think the BJP has a chance of winning in Odisha, given its poor performance in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections?

We are hopeful. There is enthusiasm across the rank and file. In the 2009-2014 period, the kind of work that should have gone into building the organisation on the ground was not done. But now, I can confidently say that from 2014, there has been a lot of focus by the party President and Prime Minister.

You have talked about industrial parks that haven’t taken off in the State and the fact that people in the mineral-rich areas are poor. How much do these issues matter to the people?

There are four major issues people understand very well — growing corruption, massive unemployment, declining growth in the manufacturing sector and the issue of women’s safety. Odisha ranks third in the country in rape and domestic violence cases.

But the State has some schemes for economic empowerment of women...

I was director of ‘Mission Shakti’ for four years from 2003. The government’s focus was to empower women and make them self-reliant through a number of micro establishments. But now, doles are being given(instead of business opportunities). Women say they don’t have much work beyond ‘badi, papad and achar’. They demand bada vyaapar (big businesses).

Can the farm sector distress be addressed by the BJP?

We need a perspective plan with a monitoring framework. We are giving farmers ₹5,000 under the KALIA scheme. I am not objecting to the scheme but its implementation. Farmers want cold storage, good seeds and fertilisers and good price for crops. We need a sustainable growth model and BJP will bring it.

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Published on April 16, 2019

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