Naveen Patnaik, the current Odisha CM in an interview given to Nistula Hebbar of The Hindu, by his comments, has churned debate and discussions for an interesting political scenario post elections. In the interview, just as Odisha prepares for both general and assembly elections, he has indicated towards supporting the BJP led government post elections, despite locking horns with the national ruling party in the ongoing national elections and imminent state assembly elections.
In the interview, on being asked whether the voters will have the necessary discretion to vote independently for the national and state elections, Naveen Patnaik by his reply has surely given signs of the current political flow in Odisha. He replied, “Well, we have stated clearly in our manifesto that we will support any government at the Centre that fulfils the just demands of Odisha. So it should not be a contradiction in terms for the voter to vote for us in the Assembly and others for Parliament.” Giving an indication that voter who might support him for his fifth term, however, may go with “Others” when it comes to the general elections. Essentially implying BJD candidates to be facing tough competition from an emerging BJP in the state. According to recent trends, Congress, which is virtually nonexistent in the state, the BJP emerges at the most probable challenger and a quite strong one, as indicated by various surveys.
On being asked about Modi government’s record in maintaining social harmony in the Nation, Naveen Patnaik has discarded any decline in social harmony and said, “It hasn’t been bad, no.” The opposition camp has been relentlessly trying to denigrate Modi government’s image on this front; however Naveen Patnaik by his comments has clearly distanced himself from the skewed political narrative and in a way debunked the myth, which a few parties are trying hard to peddle.
#2019Elections update: In the same interview, Naveen Patnaik is asked about the BJP's track record when it comes to social harmony.
He answers: "It hasn't been bad, no."
— tfipost.com (@rightlog_in) April 17, 2019
Naveen Patnaik who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the green field state, according to various opinion surveys, is poised to lose political ground to erstwhile partner, the BJP. This comes after a sizeable number of BJD leaders have jumped ships to the BJP, which also include, Baijayant “Jay” Panda, an ex-senior leader of the BJD who is now national vice president and official spokesperson of the BJP.
Naveen Patnaik throughout his political career has made a very healthy distance from Congress; however, after a small stretch of interaction with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Telangana CM KCR, he has also stayed away from the ‘random mixed bag’ third front. Coming with this interview he has reiterated his stand that the options stand open for him which ultimately indicates towards a post-poll alliance with the BJP.
However, the most compelling evidence of Naveen Patnaik’s shift is surely his blatant rejection of the intolerance or the ‘social disharmony’ narrative, which has been the centerpiece of all the campaign efforts by the opposition camp. With Naveen Patnaik sending feelers to the BJP, the problem for the opposition camp, which is rooting for a Mahagathbandhan after the elections, is surely going to increase at the same time. Patnaik’s comments will also be upsetting multiple leaders who are presenting themselves as future Prime Minister.