Pradeep Pattanayak

Keeping the 2024 elections in sight, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has initiated stocktaking meets after the thumping wins in Panchayat and Urban polls held recently.  

In a first after the pandemic, Patnaik met with the observers of nine districts that included Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Sundargarh, Nayagarh, Angul, Dhenkanal, Kendrapara and Balasore. Post this interaction, the CM met with the observers of Gajapati, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Subarnapur and Jagatsinghpur districts. 

As per party sources, the BJD supremo tried to ascertain the reasons with regard to the party's loss of some seats in the recently held grassroots poll. In the closed-door meeting held, sources say, the CM has asked the observers to submit reports within 10 days. 

Meanwhile, the stocktaking meet by CM Naveen Patnaik is seen in the political circles as the preparatory meets for the 2024 general elections. Observers view the meeting also as an exercise by the Supremo for the impending cabinet reshuffle soon. 

“CM held a wide-ranging discussion on the party’s performance in the last Panchayat and Municipality elections. The meet also mulled on strategies for the 2024 title fight,” said Nayagarh observer Padmanabha Behera and added that the CM has sought a detailed report within 10 days. 

However, what set the political gossip ringing was the absence of the party’s organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das in the meeting. Das being the organisational secretary of the party, the 'missing' sets the tongue-wagging in political circles.

The party sources, however, maintained that in today's meeting senior observers were not invited, and that has been the probable reason behind Das' absence, they added.

Even as the ruling party has begun the exercises to perk up its organisational strength to make the party 2024 ready, observers view the internal strife in the party that had been an open secret in the recently concluded rural and civic bodies polls, as the big challenge before CM Patnaik.

“During the last rural and urban polls, the party had faced largescale dissidence. Rebels played the spoilsport in many instances. The ongoing review meeting can be construed as an exercise to put an end to all such dissensions in the party,” observed senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty. He added that the party’s main focus now is to contain these internal conflagrations well before the 2024 battle.

Reports suggest that the CM will talk to observers from the remaining 16 districts on Sunday.