Reported by Sandeep Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Apr 3:
After the cacophony lasting nearly a month, total calm prevails these days in and around Naveen Niwas, the residence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that had become the makeshift BJD headquarters for the duration.
There is a relaxed air about the place these days. Gone are the ear-piercing scream of vehicle horns, the constant whirring of the OB vans and the army of breathless television reporters strutting about all day. With the troublesome business of ticket distribution out of the way and campaigning for the first phase of elections having picked up in right earnest, Naveen Niwas, which bustled with hectic activity from morning till late in the evening just days ago, now wears a pleasantly deserted look.
Commuters have heaved a huge sigh of relief at the absence of the daylong hustle bustle that made driving on the road in front of Naveen Niwas a veritable nightmare.
“With rows of vehicles parked on either side of the narrow road and the crowd of ticket seekers, their supporters and political fixers taking over the road as if they were taking a stroll on their private lawn, life had become hell for me for well over a month. Now, I can take the road without bothering about how long it would take to negotiate this stretch,” says Biren Nayak, a resident of the area who has to travel by the road in front of Naveen Niwas at least four times a day.
It is, however, not just the commuters who are relieved. Among those who can now breathe a little easier are the security personnel on duty who had a tough time controlling the crowd and the traffic when ticket-seeking was at fever-pitch.
“With the Chief Minister going out on electioneering early every morning and coming back only in the evening, we don’t have much to do. We while away time engaging in small talk,” confided one of them.
Not everyone is happy about the disappearance of the milling crowds though. “My sales shot up nearly three-fold for nearly a month when people from all over the state thronged the place. But with ticket distribution over and the crowds gone, it is back to business as usual,” rues Nageswara Das, a paan vendor who has set up shop in the open on the lane next to Naveen Niwas.