His clean image and crusade against corruption are the greatest assets tilting political scales in his favour. With Janaki Ballabh Patnaik at the helm of affairs of the Congress Party, the polarisation in the electoral battle in Orissa is quite clear. It is J.B. Patnaik vs Naveen Patnaik now. In the personality clash it is Naveen who is way ahead of his Congress rival. ?Our people are with us in the crusade against corruption? said Shri Naveen Patnaik in an exclusive interview to Organiser correspondents Deepak Kumar Rath and Sanjay Kumar Jena Hopping from one meeting to another in his campaign trail, Naveen calls the Congress party the ?Corruption Club? and people vociferously cheer him after every sentence that he utters.
?We are a partner in the NDA and therefore the `Vajpayee? factor is legitimately ours,? adds BJD supremo and the state Chief Minister. With Vajpayee and development of the state as added advantage, the BJP-BJD alliance is all set to register a resounding victory in Orissa.
The BJD-BJP coalition is seeking another term. How sure are you of victory this time?
In the last election, the people of Orissa gave a resounding mandate in favour of the BJD-BJP combine. This time we are seeking a fresh mandate from the people to vigorously pursue our pro-people programmes. I am confident of our victory this time as well.
What is the strategy to take on the Congress led by J.B. Patnaik?
The people have seen the performance of the Congress government since the past 40 years and that of J.B. Pattnaik in the last 14 years. Our achievements during the last four years are also before the voters. Factors like the comparative score-card on development issues, good governance and transparency are what we are banking upon. It is for the people to judge.
Almost all your baiters have joined the Congress. Won'tthis affect the prospects of your alliance?
No, certainly not. I think the net result has been purgatory. If the Congress wants to bask in the glory of a few corrupt and rejected persons from the BJD, then that is its business.
What is your major poll plank this time?
This time it will be good governance, development and eradication of corruption.
You have failed to exchange some Assembly seats with the BJP. How will you coordinate with your coalition partner during the campaigning?
As of now, the seat adjustment between the BJD and the BJP has been smooth and any contentious issue can always be sorted out at the coordination committee meetings. We are undertaking joint campaigning and I see no difficulty in the coalition.
How much will your party depend on the ?Vajpayee? factor?
We are a partner in the NDA government and therefore the ?Vajpayee? factor is legitimately ours too.
Do you feel your slogan against corruption will have an impact on the electorate?
My action against corruption has been well acclaimed by the people of Orissa. Our people are with us in the crusade against corruption.