My devotion is towards Puri and its people: BJD candidate Arup Patnaik

Former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik is taking on BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra in Puri Parliamentary constituency. He speaks to Hemant Kumar Rout about his plans to win the election and address key issues.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik is taking on BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra in Puri Parliamentary constituency.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik is taking on BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra in Puri Parliamentary constituency.

You unsuccessfully contested the 2019 General Elections from Bhubaneswar. What’s your plan to win from Puri?

I analysed my lacunae in the previous outing and tried to change my approach and strategies by focusing on development and addressing local issues. We have three districts to cover - Puri, Khurda and Nayagarh unlike my previous constituency Bhubaneswar. There are issues of logistics and distance. But the advantage is my nativity. I belong to Delanga and have kept the connection. I am not carrying any baggage as I am a fresh face for Puri, which is a BJD stronghold. The organisation structure is very strong here. Since I belong to the area, I know the culture, sub-culture and ethos of people here. I have been travelling extensively to meet as many constituents to popularise the good work done by the Naveen Patnaik-led government.

Despite being a native, Puri is new political terrain for you. What issues have you come across?

There are areas such as Krushnaprasad block, which is located across Chilika lake. People ferry in boats to reach the headquarters town to avoid long distance travel through alternative routes. Similarly, Ranpur and Nayagarh have vast forest areas. These are difficult terrains and have a lot of issues. Some areas in Chilika have drinking water problems. A `250 crore project has recently been sanctioned to provide water from a dam to the area. A proposed bridge over Chilika is stuck over environmental concerns. The area can witness development if infrastructure for tourism is developed. It will also generate employment.

There is controversy surrounding Puri Parikrama Prakalpa. The government has been accused of damaging heritage for making space for pilgrims.

The matter has taken political overtones. It had gone to the highest court due to which things got delayed. There were views and counter views. The ASI stepped in and the work was undertaken under its guidance. The matter has finally been adjudicated. There should be an end to this. The Parikrama Prakalpa has been dedicated to people and they are happy to see the transformation.

Despite being one of the four dhams, Puri has failed to attract international tourists like other such places. What is your take on this?

Yes, Puri has failed to attract tourists as compared to other such places in the country. It is because, Puri lags in terms of infrastructure. There is no airport. That aspect has now been addressed as the government has announced an international airport. Puri is an old city that Varanasi used to be. The infrastructure is being developed by the state government. In the manifesto, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced plans to develop Puri as an international city. There is tourism infrastructure, but more needs to be created given the potential of the place to attract international tourists. The state government is doing its part. Private entrepreneurs must chip in and join hands to develop recreation facilities.

Coastal towns like Puri are set to bear the brunt of climate change and global warming. Surprisingly it does not figure in BJD’s manifesto.

BJD will not write or promise anything which it cannot do. The party promises what it can deliver. If the manifesto does not mention any plan to tackle climate change effects, it does not mean the party is not concerned. Climate change is a global concern. Several steps are being taken and certainly the government will continue to do so.

Why will people vote for you?

As a retired IPS officer, I have vast experience in administration. Since I do not have any other occupation and have been in the social service like cancer care, blood donation and other healthcare, I am connected to people. My heart is in the right place. My credibility, dedication, integrity and honesty are intact. I am a local and will devote time to people and their cause. God has brought me to Puri during the last part of my life to serve its people. My devotion is towards Puri and its people. It’s my commitment which I will keep.

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