The verdict of the electorate in Orissa has come as a great surprise to the winning party, namely the Congress. To J. B. Patnaik, who has just been unanimously elected the leader of the Congress Legislature Party, the biggest surprise is that he has become the chief minister for the third time. J. B. Patnaik had become so unpopular that he was prevailed upon by the Congress High Command not to seek election to the Assembly with which he complied. Patnaik had readily agreed to stand down in the certain knowledge that the party would not be able to give a good account of itself. Besides the two front runners for the chief minister’s gaddi have both been experienced men who would serve the party as efficient opposition leaders. But the general trend against the establishment seen in the state elections has swept Orissa too and in that whirlwind, the Janata Dal strongman, Patnaik was made to bite the dust.
The Janata Dal leader has advanced a number of reasons why his party was demolished in Orissa like the lack of unity of the left forces, what with CPI, according to Biju Patnaik, colluding with the Congress, the utter futility of the so-called third front of ineffective parties which split the left votes, etc. But the fact remains that Biju Patnaik’s defeat is the defeat of one who promises the moon but delivers nothing. If the tribals have been languishing in the Kalahandi district for want of drinking water and at least one meal from which the Congress derived quite some mileage, Janata Dal has dug its own grave.