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OpinionsLike a falling star, Naveen Patnaik fell off the political grid

Like a falling star, Naveen Patnaik fell off the political grid


BJP makes tremendous breakthrough by wresting Odisha from BJD

By Sushil Kutty

Only a sentimental romantic will think of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at this hour, the BJD Chief's worst days in life. Naveen Patnaik is history and will be forgotten. The Bharatiya Janata Party, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading from the front, put a halt to the smooth run of Biju Janata Dal governance in Odisha with a polished performance, which the saffron party could not emulate at the level. In a manner of speaking, if Naveen Patnaik is down and out, Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn't exactly doing somersaults, either.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi put up a brave face at the BJP national headquarters the other day but the gloom on the faces of BJP heavyweights Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and JP Nadda told a different story. One which Naveen Patnaik would have commisserated with. None of these BJP leaders were thinking of the resounding BJP victory in Odisha or the party's sterling performances in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, they were witnessing the impending end of Narendra Modi's 10-year run.

The grief in the BJP at the party's inability to achieve a simple majority in the Lok Sabha completely erased the party's victory in Odisha, such that even the atrociously voluble Sambit Patra couldn't find his voice. Prime Minister Narendra Modi shouldn't forget that but for Odisha's 20 Lok Sabha seats, which the BJP won, he too would have lost his gravelly voice. Odisha saved Modi and the BJP immediate blushes. Prabhu Puri Jagannath must have forgiven Patra's “slip of tongue”.

Will BJP miss Modi's swagger after the Lok Sabha election snub? Will Odisha miss Naveen Patnaik's calm demeanour after the total eclipse of the Biju Janata Dal? ‘Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar' applies to Naveen Patnaik as well as to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam Party Chief Chandrababu Naidu are hogging headlines, when Naveen Patnaik won't even get a punctuation or an exclamation mark in the text. Chandrababu Naidu achieved what Naveen Patnaik had been achieving for a couple of decades. But a BJD sweep in Odisha wouldn't have brought Naveen Patnaik into the limelight because the man did not covet national spotlight. He preferred his quiet Odisha corner to New Delhi's loud power corridors. Unlike the TDP Supremo Chandrababu Naidu, who at one time strode the Delhi stage like a ‘political playboy', striking hard bargains and sustaining harder falls.

Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under persuasion from the compulsions of coalition , cave in and bestow “special status” on Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and “BJP's own Odisha” now that he is one among equals and the BJP in danger of losing its “double-engine” brag? How the great fall — today here, whither tomorrow? Both Narendra Modi and Naveen Patnaik's stars are crossed. Prime Minister Modi is past his power-play days and Naveen Patnaik's chief ministerial career has been given a quiet burial. Naveen Patnaik shouldn't have foisted a “Tamizhan” on the Odia. VK Pandian won't be around to still Naveen Patnaik's shaking hands.

So Naveen Patnaik will no longer be Chief Minister and Chandrababu Naidu is poised to become Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh again unless he gets snagged in INDI-Alliance and joins the Congress-led opposition conglomerate. In which case, he will be able to get for Andhra Pradesh the “special status” the state covets and, perhaps, a “Deputy Prime Minister” post for himself. The point is, “special status” will be there for the asking in the coming days, whether it is the NDA ruling or the INDI-Alliance holding the reins of power.

Naveen Patnaik fought the state elections from two assembly segments, Kantabanji and Hinjili. He lost from the former and won from the latter. Will he deign to come to the assembly as often as he would have if the BJD hadn't lost the right to rule? That aside, the BJD has no role in the government formation at the Centre. But then Naveen Patnaik never courted a say in the politics of Delhi even when he was in power. Patnaik's self-inflicted isolation has only been reinforced in the new adversarial circumstances that the BJD finds itself in.

Comparing Naveen Patnaik and Chandrababu Naidu is like comparing Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh. One draped in the executive safari and the other clothed in homegrown plainness. One with calculation written in every demeanour, the other who was mostly invisible and with limited ambition. But both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are fortunate to be assured of stable governments after the clean sweeps witnessed in both the states. That said, Jagan Mohan Reddy is in the same boat as Naveen Patnaik. Jagan's sister, YS Sharmila, isn't in a better place.

The exit polls had set up the Bharatiya Janata Party for Modi's greatest ever fall. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was promising himself a cache of more than 400 Lok Sabha seats but Modi's wish was remarkably cut short and Naveen Patnaik isn't there to comment on Modi's stagnant situation. The Prime Minister achieved a “hattrick of terms” but he isn't much better off than Naveen Patnaik. Chandrababu Naidu and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can anytime they wish pull the carpet from under Modi's feet. In that case, Modi can always apply for the Odisha Chief Minister's post, after all Naveen Patnaik had earmarked “outsider” VK Pandian for the job. IPA



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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