Op-Ed: Will Naveen Make It For the Fifth Time In A Row?

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: As the counting day nears there is growing anxiety among ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders. The question uppermost in their minds is what happens if the party fails to reach the magic figure in the state assembly.

On the face of it this a purely hypothetical question but it is bound to be asked in the backdrop of exit poll results for the Lok Sabha polls. These don’t portend well for the Naveen Patnaik – led party. They show BJP making big gains in the state which should be a cause for worry for the ruling party.

They can also be taken as an indication of what may happen in the state assembly. If the BJP also makes similar gains in the assembly then the BJD would be in deep trouble. In the wake of exit polls many political observers have begun saying that it is going to be a tight race between BJP and BJD for the assembly.

Considering that BJD has been winning assembly elections by big margins it would like to maintain its record. Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik is not someone who likes to do a tightrope walk. Hence his party would want as comfortable majority and would certainly like to avoid a situation where horse trading is possible.

The BJD not getting a comfortable majority can have major repercussions for the ruling party. For one it can make chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s position shaky with the likelihood of his authority being challenged from within. Secondly many closet dissidents, who until now had been keeping quiet for the fear of disciplinary action, may come out into open resulting in multiple problems for the chief minister.

As it is Patnaik has so far been ruling the BJD with an iron hand. He has never tolerated indiscipline of any kind. In the rare instances where he had to bear with it because of pressing circumstances he struck against dissidents as soon as he got the opportunity.

Hence he would like to avoid any situation where he may lose control of the party. Till date he has not only been the undisputed leader of the party but also its sole mascot. He would definitely not like a situation where his position as the supreme leader of the party may be challenged.

Such a situation can emerge if his party either gets a bare majority or fails to reach the magic figure. If sources are to be believed such fears have begun to haunt the chief minister and his coterie though I personally believe that BJD would pass the assembly test with flying colours. The party may not win the kind of majority it had in 2014 but it should still find itself in a comfortable position.

But that is my personal opinion. Many political analysts don’t agree with me. They argue that people in Odisha want change and have voted for change. Hence chances of Naveen Patnaik becoming chief minister for the fifth time in a row do not appear bright. I don’t agree but I am in a minority this time.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)