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Across 400 km, Naveen Patnaik’s two seats have same concerns, hope: jobs

At the busy RMC Market Complex at Hinjili in south Odisha, Kiswar Majhi, who runs a tea stall, is dismayed over the “corruption” he encounters at the grassroots and the lack of employment opportunities in the region. However, when it comes to voting on May 20, Majhi admits, his vote will go again to Naveen Patnaik, who has represented the Hinjili constituency since 2000, when he became the Chief Minister.

“Naveen babu is a good man. He has done a lot of good work in roads and irrigation in our area,” Majhi says. But, he adds, “I don’t have an alternative.”

Over 400 km away, Patnaik is contesting from a second constituency, Kantabanji. Like Majhi, for voters here too, the lack of jobs is a big concern. Outward migration for work is a reality in both the constituencies.

Even if Patnaik wins from both and chooses to retain Hinjili – he did the same in 2019, when he had won additionally from Bijepur – for some, especially the youth who have known no other CM, the wait for things to change has dragged on for too long.

“BJD leaders take pride in the fact that Naveen babu will become the longest-serving CM by next August (if he comes back to power). He too claims to have done a lot for the state like constructing the world’s largest hockey stadium and hosting two (hockey) World Cups. But, in our region, he could not set up even a needle factory,” says Jagdish Gauda, who sells sugarcane juice near the Hinjili bus stand.

Gauda’s brother, who holds a technical degree, is working in Bengaluru after failing to get a job in the state.

In villages across the region, youths like him are away working in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Surat. As voters point out, it is come elections that parties even remember these migrants, only

Read more on indianexpress.com