There is no anti-incumbency against BJD: Santrupt Misra

In Odisha, we only know about big industries. Growth of MSMEs is also one of my priority areas for Cuttack, Misra added.
Santrupt Misra
Santrupt MisraExpress

Former CEO of Birla Carbon and HR head of Aditya Birla Group Santrupt Misra has joined BJD after spending 28 years in the corporate world. He has been fielded by BJD from the prestigious Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency by replacing six-time MP Bhartruhari Mahtab. Hemant Kumar Rout speaks to him about his and the party’s prospects, and his aspirations for the constituency and its people.

From the corporate world to political pitch, the transition must have been difficult for you. Did you approach BJD or the party approached you?

It is not about someone approaching the other. It is a courtship that grew over a period of time. I had interacted with some people in the government on many occasions and shared many ideas. The government had offered me an opportunity in 2018 which I could not take up due to some personal reasons. And then when I decided to come to public life, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during an interaction encouraged me to join the party. The more I saw him the more I liked the man. The common ground was that he was about Odisha and I was about Odisha. However, my tryst with BJD grew after I joined the party. I chose BJD mostly for three reasons - personality of the chief minister, holistic development taken place in the state during his tenure and my intention to return to Odisha to work for my people with the experience I have acquired over the years.

You belong to Puri. You could have opted for the Puri constituency. Why did you choose Cuttack? People there are saying you are an outsider.

Believe me, nobody asked me the constituency I want to contest from. I did not even know that I would fight the Lok Sabha election. That’s why I think it is destiny. The party asked me to contest and I accepted it. Simply because it is an old and prestigious seat. I studied at Cuttack and I feel I am a true ‘Katakia’. Puri would have the benefit of saying my village and Cuttack is a benefit of saying where I grew up. Those who did not know my background were tagging me as an outsider. But now nobody says it. I am well accepted across the constituency.

What are the major issues you have identified in Cuttack? How would you solve those issues?

Skill development, employment, infrastructure, expansion of economy and tourism promotion are some of the issues that need to be addressed properly. There are a lot of young people who are in search of employment. For that, we must focus on acquiring skills. We have to make our young generation employable with the right skills.

Another major issue is how to expand the economy with alternative demand creation. For example: tourism. We are going to Banaras, Haridwar and Allahabad. Can we not have people from other states at Kantilo, Dhabaleswar and other such pilgrim centres? There are places in Baramba-Narasinghpur which were visited by Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang. Guru Nanak Dev had visited the Gurudwara near Jobra. These areas can be packaged and propagated. If our tourism gets expanded, we can also generate employment. We can have a filigree jewellery market like the cluster of shops in Dubai. We can globalise our heritage.

Cuttack was always a centre of learning. We have plans for building some educational institutes of global standards so that people from other countries would love to come and study. An international institute of designing or an institute in space craft can be thought of.

In Odisha, we only know about big industries. Growth of MSMEs is also one of my priority areas for Cuttack.

Why would people of Cuttack vote for Santrupt Misra?

For that, I am preparing a manifesto for Cuttack. This is being prepared after my meetings with people from different parts and different segments. I am trying to address most of the issues and concerns to ensure that Cuttack becomes a model constituency in the country.

Is there anti-incumbency in Odisha?

I have visited many places and have realised that there is no anti-incumbency against BJD. But obviously whenever you have people long representing a position, it affects. You may have done nine things for people and if you failed to do one thing, they will forget the nine things done and hold you responsible for the one thing you could not do. One thing I must say, the legitimacy of BJD has not eroded in any manner.

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