Naveen’s leadership mettle lies not in poll wins but crowning a successor!

Biju babu groomed many leaders like Damodar Rout, Bijaya Mahapatra & Dilip Ray et al. In Naveen's time, the grooming element is there. But not the visible political faces

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik elected BJD president for the record 8th time in a row on Wednesday. As the BJD President at this crucial juncture, the biggest presidential challenge now is seeing a successor to him.

Because, there goes a saying “There is no success without a successor.” It’s another matter that the ruling BJD has gone gaga over Naveen’s crowning moment. But observers see no reason of celebration at this point of time, when BJD lives with a big Q – Who after Naveen? Especially, when CM Patnaik is now 73 years.

At the outset, BJD’s succession plan seems to be in limbo. CM Naveen, when asked about his succession plan, has always toed the Deng Xiaoping line that says “For a leader to pick his own successor is a feudal practice.” And Naveen’s answer has always been people will chose “My Successor”.

However, Naveen’s leadership success cannot be measured by landslide electoral victories alone. After all, famous leadership consultant, author and speaker Myles Munroe had once said “Leadership success is measured by the success of your successor.”

In this context, the biggest leadership challenge before Naveen after donning the crown of BJD president for the 8th time, is to discover an ‘able’ successor to ship the BJD in politically turbulent waters.

Like his legendary father, Naveen too is refraining from naming his successor. Late Biju Patnaik till his last breath had not anointed a successor, though the most plausible reason could have been Biju Patnaik was among the topline leader of the then national party Janata Dal. It is well known that electing a successor is not that easy in national parties, except when the surname is ‘Gandhi’.

But Naveen Patnaik has no such compulsions. He is the king of his fiefdom – the BJD. Still, Naveen faithfully toed the Deng Xiaoping line.

Though in politics naming successor and grooming one are two different takes, there has been no conspicuous similarity between Biju babu and Naveen, when it comes to grooming one.

During his era, Biju babu had groomed many leaders (from Damodar Rout, Bijaya Mahapatra to Dilip Ray et al). In Naveen’s time, the grooming element is there. But not the visible political faces. A look at the entire 19-year reign of Naveen Patnaik reveals how bureaucrats (retired or serving) have mostly run the show for him.

When till 2012, late Pyarimohan Mohapatra (retired bureaucrat) was running the BJD show, a Gen next bureaucrat and his private secretary VK Pandian is widely believed in the political circles to be running the BJD show now.

Unlike Biju babu, Naveen trusted more on bureaucrats than politicians. The conviction behind Naveen could be that as a student of Bachelor of Arts, he seems to have a well grip over the country’s political history of intrigues – from Mughal era to contemporary times.

Moreover, observers are of the opinion that Naveen don’t think the current crop of leaders are fit to don his successor mantle, given their dalliance with controversies. And another big interesting take here is, BJD is now not left with senior leaders of Biju era – either by default or by design.

In politics, it is widely believed that crisis give birth to a leader. Like 1998, when crisis-ridden erstwhile Janata Dal split and Naveen took birth as a leader of BJD, the script this time will be an encore with an ‘official’ twist.