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Modi Wants Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: As both the BJD and the BJP leadership are slowly inching towards a pre-poll alliance ahead of the general elections to the Lok Sabha and the Odisha Assembly, people across the state are confused. They have started asking just one question. Does Naveen Patnaik’s party need the help of any other political party in the forthcoming elections? The BJD rank and file do not accept the possibility of an alliance with BJP easily.

Similar is the situation in the Odisha BJP. The saffron party rank and file which has been fighting to oust the Naveen Patnaik dispensation since 2009, is also equally annoyed over the party’s central leadership decision. BJP state president Man Mohan Samal and group have reportedly opposed the move while another faction led by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is in support of the alliance.

The BJD supporters claim that the party had secured 114 of the 147 assembly seats in the 2019 elections along with 12 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and Naveen’s stake and popularity rises by the day, there is no need for the alliance with BJP.

On the other hand, BJP central leadership is interested in an alliance with the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik keeping in view the situation to be created after the elections. No doubt the BJP led NDA will form the government at the Centre and Narendra Modi will continue to remain the Prime Minister for the third consecutive time.

It is also a foregone conclusion that Naveen will hit a double hat trick by becoming  the Chief Minister of Odisha for the sixth time in a row. However, Naveen thinks beyond party politics and showed his interest for the alliance keeping in view the development of the state as Odisha would complete 100 years of its formation in 2036. Naveen wants to take Odisha’s development to the next level which is not possible without the support and cooperation of the government at the centre. Therefore, Naveen may take any decision which will serve the interest of the state, said BJD Vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra.

However, the fact remains different. Naveen’s regional party was part of the NDA till 2009. Both the parties have formed the government in coalition for nine years from 2000 to 2009. Naveen has all along proved to be a gentleman and never indulged in bargaining with the BJP during the 11 years in NDA even as Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and others have all along demanded their share from the NDA Government. Naveen’s attitude has in fact forced PM Modi and HM Shah to take him back to the NDA fold. Both Shri Modi and Shri Shah have tried their best to defeat Naveen in the last 15 years and utterly failed. Therefore, both of them have praised Naveen by describing him as a “Lokapriya” (popular) chief minister who has been elected for the five consecutive times in a row despite BJP’s strong wave across the state.

Now under the changed circumstances, both Shri Modi and Shri Shah consider that having Naveen in the NDA would add to the glory of their platform. They have meanwhile got back Nitish Kumar. Now, if Naveen comes to the NDA fold though this pre-poll alliance, the NDA would be stronger as well as a prestigious political platform in the country. In a nutshell, Naveen’s presence in the NDA is desperation of both Modi and Shah. They want to show the country that they have the support of the 5 time chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who is all set to emerge as the longest serving chief minister in the country.

 Therefore, the opposition from Manmohan Samal and others appears to have little impact on Modi-Shah combine as they are determined to fix a jewel in the form of Naveen in the NDA’s crown. It appears that Modi-Shah combine considers that Naveen in NDA is more important for them than a BJP Government in Odisha. The BJP central leadership is also quite aware that the saffron party is yet to cement its base in Odisha. It is, however, a fact that BJP has gained something in the state, but those are mostly based on the popularity of PM Modi and welfare schemes of the central government.

The BJP as a party is yet to have a strong network across the state. They may win seats, but still the party lacks proper people in all the over 37,000 booths. Shah’s call for “Mo Booth Sab Se Majboot” is yet to be realized. Therefore, the BJP central leadership does not believe that the party could come to power on its own in Odisha . On the other hand, they cannot annoy Naveen, who has been supporting the NDA and the BJP during the crisis. It is Naveen Patnaik, the lone politician in the country who has dared to send a rival BJP candidate to Rajya Sabha, not once, but twice.

This apart, the prestige of Naveen further increased when BJP’s proposal for an alliance was accepted by the regional party Supremo. Nobody including PM Modi and HM Shah had imagined that Naveen would agree for an alliance despite his party having no requirement for a tie-up. The BJP central leadership was also moved when Naveen openly announced that his party would do “everything” for the interest of the state. They know that there is hardly a leader in India, who thinks so much for the state and even at the cost of the feelings of his party rank and file. Naveen has the charisma to carry his people and make them understand that whatever he does, it is better for the state. Naveen is the only leader of any party who has so much control over his party men.

“The Modi-Shah combine was also moved at Naveen’s ability to make his people accept him. The BJD people may blame any other leader in the party, but not Naveen at any point of time. About one crore primary members of the BJD have tremendous trust in Naveen,” pointed out a political analyst adding that these are the factors for which the Modi-Shah combine consider Naveen as “most precious” for the NDA.

There is no doubt that Naveen can keep his folks together, However, under such changed circumstances, time will tell whether BJP can remain united in the event the saffron party forges an alliance with the BJD.