Churning in BJD for survival following poll debacle

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | June 07, 2024 IST

BJD

Bhubaneswar, June 7: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is going through a churning for the first time in its 27-year-long history following the unexpected defeat in the recently concluded Assembly polls in the state. 

The party witnessed a major dent in the popularity of BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik who himself faced a humiliating defeat in Kantabanji in Balangir district. The 77-year-old Patnaik won from his home turf Hinjili constituency in Ganjam district by a very narrow margin.

The writer-turned-politician had never tasted defeat since he joined politics in 1997 by winning the by-election from Aska Lok Sabha constituency after the death of his father and former Janata Dal stalwart, Bijayananda Patnaik.

Naveen Patnaik, a political novice, founded the Biju Janata Dal, on December 26, 1997 after splitting from the erstwhile Janata Dal. The BJD along with alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party formed the government in Odisha winning the 2000 and 2004 assembly elections.

Though Patnaik ditched his alliance partner BJP, yet he registered an emphatic win in the 2009 assembly elections due to his simplicity, anti-corruption crusader image and pro-poor welfare policies. He maintained this success in the future elections too.

He continued to retain his pre-eminence and invincibility in Odisha politics with a constant rise in the BJD's vote share and seats tally during the 2014 and 2019 elections too. Meanwhile, the local units of the opposition BJP and the Indian National Congress were busy in their internal party squabbles over the question of leadership.

The BJP finally breached the BJD citadel wresting power from the once-invincible Patnaik after 24 years of his rule.

The BJP through an aggressive campaign managed to convey the message to the voters that the Odia self-identity, culture, language and literature would be under threat in the face of the taking over of the reins by Tamil Nadu born Pandian. The party also cornered the BJD over the alleged poor health of Patnaik forcing the BJD supremo to issue clarifications about his health multiple times.

As per the political observers, this is a watershed moment for the regional party and the over two decades’ long political career of Patnaik.

Everyone’s eyes are now on Patnaik who has the daunting task before him to revitalize the party bringing together all the workers and leaders. Experts opined that Patnaik has to build a second rung of leadership in the party who can lead the party in the future. The veteran leader neglected to nurture a second rung leadership that also cost the party dearly in this election.

Speculation is also rife that the political career of bureaucrat-turned-politician Pandian has also come to an end with the results clearly indicating this rejection by the voters as the reported successor to Patnaik.

Pandian had emerged as the most powerful leader in the BJD after Naveen Patnaik. He took the leading role in the selection of candidates, poll campaigning, election management, etc.

Amidst the speculation over his political future, the former bureaucrat who used to lead the poll campaign left for the national capital immediately after the declaration of results on June 4. He is yet to face the media after the party’s humiliating poll defeat.

Following the defeat, the BJD president had held two meetings with both the winning and losing candidates at his residence. Interestingly, Pandian was not present during the meetings further fanning the rumour about the end of his political career.

This raised the question about who will replace Pandian as the close confidant and trusted lieutenant of Patnaik.

The BJD supremo has also been known to give carte blanche to someone, be it Pyarimohan Mohapatra, former principal secretary who served under his father Biju Patnaik, or VK Pandian, who greatly helped Patnaik in running the government and party throughout his political career.

 

(IANS)

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