Naveen’s ‘fitness’ frame to counter Amit Shah’s ‘young’ CM narrative

..... What alarmed BJD more is elections 2019 will see a whopping 5.5 lakh first time voters in age-group of 18-19 years. Besides, total voters below 35 years age-group in Odisha stood at whopping 1.9 crore

Bhubaneswar: Politics is all about bending, (arm)twisting, somersaults and a jog for power. The physical work-out video of CM Naveen Patnaik has all the elements of politics.

While the message of the ‘work-out’ video is obviously politics, the making of the ‘viral’ video also has the clear political reasons behind. Someone has said, “Elevating the heart rate, breaking a sweat are the only things needed to elevate the mood.” When seen in the said context, BJD’s ‘work out’ plan seems apparently a strategy to pep up the mood of voters and BJD cadres alike.

Significantly, the timing of the video release prior to a week before the phase -1 elections begs more questions. Why the ruling BJD needed such a pep-up dose ahead of the crucial elections? In fact, when the CM and his colleagues had stayed away from even ‘posturing’ on International Yoga Day, what was the urgency now? Has the party had a feedback of sombre mood among voters?

While the BJD’s ‘fitness exercise’ drive draws a lot of flaks from Opposition, who termed it an election stunt and desperation of Naveen to grab power. Senior Congress leader Suresh Routray said the video is meant to grab power. BJP leaders have reacted in a similar fashion. And Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan reacted sarcastically saying, ‘CM will get a break this election to concentrate on his health.’

The BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra, though, at pains to explain the ‘timing’ of the release of Naveen’s ‘work-out’ frame, he brushed aside all the questions calling it mere ‘conjectures’. “The 4.5 crore people of Odisha feel happy. The party cadres are also jubilant. Why the Opposition is bothered, I can’t understand,” he added.

However, political observers sniff out an antecedent to Naveen’s video drive. Though the Congress party has not dropped any hints about party’s CM candidate in 2019, for BJD, the big worry is BJP President Amit Shah’s announcement in a poll meeting on April 4 in Paralakhemundi and Umerkote that Odisha needs a ‘young’ Chief Minister. Interestingly, BJP has also not named its CM candidate for the upcoming elections but dropped clear hints and has started building up a narrative in the State on the need of a ‘young’ CM.

Political observers feel what alarmed the BJD more is as elections 2019 will see a whopping 5.5 lakh first time voters, who were in the age-group of 18-19 years. Besides, the total voters below the age-group of 35 years in Odisha stood at a whopping around 1.9 crore. So, when over 2 crore youths are the kingmakers this elections, and when buzzword of today’s youth is ‘High josh’, BJD  ‘worked-out’ a strategy and took to town the frame of ‘fit’ Naveen with a mission to win the huge age-group in the State. The video-drive is BJD’s counter political marketing to the growing ‘young’ CM narrative built-up by the BJP, they observed.

The cardinal rule of political campaign is while drawing up a counter narrative, go for collecting all bouquets. But brickbats will expose the party’s chinks as the vulnerabilities would then be on to fore, feel observers and added that BJD erred big on this count.