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Who will become Naveen’s successor? ‘Mo Sarkar’ holds the clue!

As big world leaders have earlier mentioned about 'grooming' of successor, the big watchout here is whom CM Naveen is grooming now?

Bhubaneswar: What Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik disclosed on BJD’s 23rd birth anniversary is not anything brand new, the only subtle difference is earlier he had spoken about successor when prodded.

Then he had said ‘people of Odisha will choose the successor’. On Thursday, Naveen addressing the party cadres said, ‘BJD is now a people’s movement and the party’s growth & survival don’t hinges on Me’.

This million dollar statement is not hideous. For political watchers, the statement is worth a revelation.

Zimbabwe’s Independence icon Robert Mugabe once had said ‘Grooming a successor -is it an inheritance? In a democratic party, you don’t want leaders appointed that way. They have to be appointed properly by the people.

Though late Mugabe’s statement has very little to do with Odisha politics, it drops many subtle hints about the BJD’s succession plan, when seen in context of Naveen’s  statement that BJD is now a people’s movement.

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First, a succession plan is afoot in the BJD at the highest level now. And more significant has been Naveen’s assertion that BJD has become a political movement now. The assertion comes close on the heels of mega push to schemes like ‘Mo Sarkar’ and 5T that have a clear resonance on voters (aam Admi).

As big world leaders have earlier mentioned about ‘grooming’ of successor, the big watchout here is whom CM Naveen is grooming now?

Consider the mascots.  The search list throws many permutations & combinations – from politicians to non-political entities.  

As the party has very adroitly knocked out many senior and veteran BJD leaders of Biju era, the shortlist of politicians as political successor of Naveen narrows down to two young leaders – Arun Sahoo and Pranab Prakash Das – who hold much heft in the party.

Significantly, if the grooming fact-tester is applied, the big fact is Naveen had dropped both the political leaders in 2017, post the rural poll blow.

After winning big in 2019, Naveen inducted Arun Sahoo in his cabinet and made him Minister of Agriculture & Higher Education. Though Naveen didn’t re-induct Pranab Prakash alias Bobby Das into his cabinet, Das is known in BJD circles as the powerful organisation man. Some even call him ‘shadow  president’ of BJD.

Since it is well known that MLAs are power centres in BJD, the rule of elimination applies on the BJD MPs (both LS and RS). Moreover, none of the BJD MLAs in the party hierarchy has an heft of the kind of Arun Sahoo and Bobby Das, though Sanjay Dasburma has the heft but lost the electoral battle in Brahmagiri.

However, the missing qualification seen in the bio-data of both the powerful BJD leaders is Naveen hasn’t made either of them a key member in ‘people movement’ schemes like ‘Mo sarkar and 5T’.

Coming on to non-political entities, BJD has the likes of Amar Patnaik (former AG, Odisha) and Arup Patnaik (former IPS). While the former is yet to test political waters, the other tasted a defeat at the hands of BJP strong woman Aparajita Sarangi.

Looking at the ‘grooming’ angle and the keyword of ‘people’s movement’, the search list zeros on the mascot of Mo Sarkar and 5T, IAS VK Pandian, who happens to be CM’s Private Secretary and a close confidante. But still a civil servant and not a BJD member.

Foot Note: Since politics is the art of possible, Naveen’s clue-trails tell the tale. Also, politics has a history, which shows Manmohan Singh, a civil servant, pipped senior Congress leaders to PM office, though with blessings of Gandhi family.

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