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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Is anti-incumbency in Odisha's air? Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in an interview  to NDTV aired last evening, admitted so unwittingly.

"Since this is for the fifth time we are seeking mandate, we have to work a little harder," said a smiling Naveen in the interview. The Chief Minister conceded that he never had such an extensive campaign in past, including the 2014 elections when Naveen had sought mandate for the fourth time.

Political observers read this very statement of CM Naveen as conceding to the fact that anti-incumbency factor is at work in Odisha. They attributed Naveen going for more perspiration in 2019 vis-a-vis 2014 to the emergence of BJP as a credible alternative under PM Modi's leadership.

Though, CM Patnaik very confidently replied not seeing any threat from PM Modi in Odisha but in the same vein, he tagged BJP-led NDA a great political threat in the current scenario.

Political observers see a lot of ambivalence in Naveen's tete-a-tete to  the national news channel recently. They also feel his leadership fallibilities were to fore in the long interview.

For instance, on being asked about his view on BJP being labelled as a communal party, pat came the reply from Naveen that "I always think so." But he was on spot when asked how could the BJD be in alliance with the BJP for nine-long years; the stupefying answer to it was: BJP was less communal then! Naveen added BJP has grown 'more' communal post Kandhamal. The statement, observers feel, brings to fore the fallibilities of Naveen Patnaik as a political leader.

Significantly, when his former party colleague Baijayant Panda had stressed on the CM not being rooted to grassroots, he was tagged being ‘’anti-party”. However, in last evening interview Naveen reasoning party's poor show in 2017 rural polls said, "We were careless. I didn't campaign as my party workers believed there was a wave for the BJD then." But when results were out the drubbing to BJD was there for all to see. And Naveen also admitted so during the talk and added that we have 'remedied' it.

Political observers read the very statement of Naveen Patnaik as one that mirrors how supremo of a party is completely cut-off from the ground scenario in the State.  And interestingly,  Baijayant Panda has been emphasising the 'very thing' in every forum since then.

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