Editorial: End Of Patnaik Era In Odisha

Editorial: End Of Patnaik Era In Odisha

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, June 07, 2024, 03:40 PM IST
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Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik | ANI

Every political era eventually comes to an end, and it appears that Naveen Patnaik’s lengthy tenure in Odisha is drawing to a close. Patnaik has governed the state for over 24 uninterrupted years, maintaining a significant level of popularity. This is evident from his vote share, which still slightly surpasses that of the BJP. However, in electoral politics, it is the number of seats that determines power, not the percentage of votes. In the recent elections, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) secured only 51 seats in a 147-member Assembly, while the BJP captured 78. The BJD’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections was even more dismal.

This divergence indicates that voters in Odisha differentiate between state and national elections, favouring the BJD for the Assembly and the BJP for Parliament. This trend is not new, but what stands out this time is the erosion of Patnaik’s credibility. Many voters no longer see him as capable of leading Odisha into the next decade. Over the past decade, the BJP has waged a relentless campaign against him, attacking his policies and his personal credentials. Although he supported the BJP’s policies at the Centre, the party relentlessly questioned his knowledge of Odisha’s districts. Furthermore, his inability to speak the local language was used against him, and rumours about a Tamil-origin former IAS officer being groomed as his successor did him no favours.

These factors culminated in a significant electoral setback for Patnaik. The BJP’s strategic attacks have tarnished his image, and his physical condition has also raised doubts about his ability to continue in politics. Now, the BJP faces the challenge of finding a leader who can effectively replace Patnaik, who has long ruled from a position of strength. Patnaik’s political career, it seems, is nearing its end. His failure to groom a successor is a notable shortcoming. Throughout his tenure, Patnaik relied heavily on his own charisma and personal appeal, neglecting the need to cultivate a strong political leader who could take over. This reliance on personal charisma is a common pitfall for long-serving leaders. As a result, the BJD now finds itself in a precarious position, needing to rebuild and find new leadership to remain relevant in Odisha’s political landscape. The end of Patnaik’s era serves as a reminder of the importance of succession planning in politics.

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