Naveen Patnaik Must Take 2019 Mandate as a Warning
Naveen Patnaik has emerged as a repeat victor to lead Odisha for the fifth consecutive term.
Known for his daredevilry feats as a pilot and subsequently a politician whose contribution to the politics had not been empirically assessed, the legendary Biju Patnaik had never allowed any of his family members to come close to politics. A man who had always pleaded in favour of a loose federalism kind of structure in India, he was also a known advocate against family politics.
He had not in wildest of his imaginations thought that his younger son, Naveen Patnaik, would emerge as a repeat victor to lead Odisha for fifth consecutive terms.
Biju Patnaik’s love for Naveen Patnaik had always remained unspoken yet the name plate in front of Biju babu’s private residence in Bhubaneswar was like a writing on the wall. And that was very personal a matter to merit description here.
Naveen Patnaik, in 1997, virtually tip-toed into politics after the death of Biju Patnaik.
It is still fresh in memory when, in a hot afternoon, Patnaik himself made several phone calls to many journalists, including this reporter, to join him for a mission. This was regarding water scarcity that used to trouble people in many parts, including Ganjam.
He made no pretensions of politics during the entire tour to several areas and went threadbare to find the solutions to mitigate the problems that, perhaps, still haunt many areas.
From that time he showed signs of a longing to get closer to people at the grass oots, far from the claustrophobic clutches of an elite Delhi. Suddenly politics became his priority.
In 1997, he was advised to fight the parliamentary seat of Aska in Ganjam district that fell vacant after Biju babu’s death, which he won. Since then Patnaik never looked back and rest is history.
It all happened in the midst of a motley group of political leaders who, in essence, constituted the club of Biju loyalists. They later dithered under the weight of ambition but Naveen Patnaik stood apart and weathered the odds to carry on the legacy.
For Naveen Patnaik, Biju babu’s name remained the main life-buoy that helped him sail through all the elections without much hurdle.
It was an interesting phase for him when he lost some friends and made a few new ones. His enemies took shelter in a sanctuary whose king is Patnaik’s friend, the prime minister Narendra Modi.
However, 2019 mandate, which helped him to tear through the Modi blizzard, may be a resounding victory but, it also should be taken as an warning not to undertake the beaten track which always leads to complacency.
(Published in an arrangement with The Samikhysa)
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