Naveen Patnaik is one of the very few chief ministers in India right now that do not belong to either the Congress led UPA or BJP led NDA. Naveen Patnaik is the son of Biju Patnaik an Indian hero who took part in the Indian freedom struggle and played a big role in freeing Kashmir from the Pakistani invaders by flying the first plane into the war zone carrying the sikh regiment.
Skip forward to today, Naveen Patnaik is the youngest son of Biju Patnaik. In 1998 upon the death of his father, with the suggestion of Pramod Mahajan, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was created so that the Sympathy for Biju Patnaik could flow their way. The BJD then entered the NDA and partnered with BJP, which gave them the firepower and manpower to win elections. After performing well in the Lok Sabha 1998 and 1999 elections Naveen Patnaik became Minister of Mine under Vajpayee. After the BJD-BJP won the 2000 Odisha elections, Naveen Patnaik became the CM. So began the rise of Naveen Patnaik and he remained CM from 2000 till today’s date winning elections after elections. The fall of BJD began in 2009 when they surprised everyone by deserting big brother BJP and quitting the NDA.
It would seem that BJD has done well in elections subsequent to the betrayal as they swept every election with a clear majority. However to ascertain the bigger picture, it is important to look at the details. After 2009 the BJD sans-BJP started to become implicated in various scams and scandals including the infamous multi-crore chitfund scam. This was further reflected in the recent panchayat elections where BJP won 306 of the 853 seats making an incredible dent into the BJD stronghold.
The anti-incumbency feeling in the state is growing and will only continue to grow in light of the scams and scandals. BJD is also witnessing an internal war demonstrated by Naveen Patnaik feud with Jay Panda who happens to be one of BJD’s most an honest and hard working politician. With Jay Panda being sacked from his party and publicly insulted by his party-mates (BJD workers threw eggs, stones at him), he is widely expected to join BJP soon which would further split the BJD into two.
Many leaders within BJD are also not happy with Naveen Patnaik’s “Bureaucracy, Sans Democracy”. It is not a secret that Naveen Patnaik is one of the only CM in India who cannot speak the local language. As a result it is his IAS officers who run not only the government but the BJD party itself. It is also an open-secret that in the state the minister virtually report to their corresponding secretaries, which is quite astonishing. BJD is not the same powerful regional which reflected in the house in terms of numbers. Internal splits, inefficiency, scandals,and scams aside, BJD is not a party that BJP will be willing to woo.
BJP has many capable leaders from Odisha such as Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, State Party President Basant Kumar Panda, the sole Odisha BJP MP Jual Oram, and BJP Spokesperson, the very articulate – Dr Sambit Patra. All of these leaders are capable and hardworking but one name that sticks out is Dharmendra Pradhan.
Dharmendra Pradhan is currently the Petroleum Minister and has done a lot of work for the country by bringing LPG connections to all the villages and helping keep the Petroleum Industry competitive. However his work in his home state of Odisha has been much more impressive. He is considered to be the star architect of the recent panchayat election victory. His strategy in the previous elections will help pave his way for a big rise.
We should expect Dharmendra Pradhan to play a bigger role in the state and he could be the main competitor and perhaps the person who will bring down Naveen Patnaik in the near future.
In conclusion the BJD is simply not the party we see on paper. There is a saying that numbers do not lie. It would seem that a BJD tie-up with BJP would help the NDA grow as far as the numbers are concerned. However looking at the bigger picture, it would seem that the number are lying this time, like they did in case of Maharashtra (Sena-BJP Feud). The BJD has started a downwards spiral which will only continue to get worse. As stated by Dr Sambit Patra “ The BJP will form a government in Odisha in 2019”. That too without Naveen Patnaik and his BJD. And Dharmendra Pradhan as the quiet challenger to Patnaik will be an excellent. And looks Dharmendra Pradhan has been trained in Administration and Politicking by the BJP top brass to defeat Patnaik in 2019.