In India, natural calamities and disasters are known to be gold mines for political parties. Disasters would be exploited for political gains. However, Cyclone Fani, for all the devastation and destruction it brought to Odisha, has shown that political parties can rise above all that. For a state that just witnessed its most acrimoniously fought electoral battle, the post-Fani conduct of politicians is nothing short of remarkable.
It has been 11 days since Fani flattened the coastal regions of the state, but Odisha leaders have realised that political one-upmanship and mud-slinging can wait when rebuilding is the priority.
After the praise-worthy evacuation of 1.2 million people hours before the cyclone hit the coast, the Naveen Patnaik administration has gone about the task of restoration with equanimity despite acute shortage of manpower and resources.
The BJD, which made “Central neglect” its prime slogan has been graceful in acknowledging the support the Union Government offered. Chief Minister and BJD boss Naveen Patnaik has maintained the political civility and grace he is known for.
The BJP, usually voluble and aggressive, has also been quietly dignified in its response. Credit to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the party’s main face in the state, who has been on ground zero and left no stone unturned in making sure basic services such as communication, banking, and fuel supply are normalised in the disaster-hit regions.
Critical junctures like these require political parties to go beyond their ideologies. Both the BJP and BJD have not just done that but also put up a great show of cooperative federalism.
When PM Narendra Modi visited the state, he not only congratulated Naveen for handling of the Fani situation well but also immediately pledged all support to the CM in rebuilding efforts. Both the state and Centre are working in tandem for Odisha.
Contrast this to neighbouring West Bengal, where politics assumed primacy and the CM did not even take the PM’s phone call to discuss Fani.