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Has Naveen Patnaik become invincible or the Congress and BJP committed political suicide in Odisha?
The result of Bhubaneswar Municipal corporation elections has again gone into the favour of Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which got 49 seats out of total 67 wards whereas the Congress and BJP managed 2 and 4 seats respectively while 7 independents bagged 12 seats.

The result is similar to earlier urban local body (ULB) elections in eastern Odisha and southern Odisha, where BJD did a clean sweep compelling the Congress and BJP to remain in single digit or even in many ULB drawing a blank. Now only two ULB elections are remaining before general elections and Assembly elections 2014.

Those are CMC (Cuttack Municipal Corporation) and Baripada municipality elections to be held on 6th February 2014. But everyone is confident that BJD will sweep and both the national parties would be pushed to single digit trailing even behind the independent tally.

This raises the question, is Naveen Patnaik led BJD became invincible in Odisha or both the national parties (Congress and BJP) committed political suicide in this polity. Let’s examine this question from both the parties' point of view sequentially. But before that let me give a brief introduction of Odisha polity which is unknown to rest of India.

Odisha perhaps is only state in the country which doesn’t have any caste equation or any religion equation. No vote bank politics works here. Though this state is economically backward but politically very advanced. Its voting pattern is always performance based and also depends on credence on alternative parties. For example if people are disappointed with ‘X’ party, then they will vote to ‘Y’ party only if it has credentials.

It’s also not averse to vote new parties. In 1967-1972, Odisha voted ‘Swatantra Party and Orissa Jana Congress and also United Front. Here individual charisma too doesn’t work once people start rejecting. Legendary Odia politician Biju Patnaik too lost all five assembly seats he contested during 1971 besides losing his Lok Sabha seat. Thus it’s always considered a miracle for Naveen Patnaik, who doesn’t know Odia language (his mother Gyan Patnaik is Punjabi) is set to be elected Chief Minister for the fourth successive term! Is he so invincible or there are other reasons?

In the Context of Congress Party:

 No doubt it was the worst management of 1999 super cyclone, which paved way for the Congress’ ouster in 2000 assembly elections. However during that time, though BJD under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik splited from Janata Dal to join BJP in 1997 still a party entirely dependent on BJP.

It hasn’t party cadre of its own as the Janata Dal still exists. As a matter of moral policy, Biju Patnaik never introduced his children in Odisha polity. Prem Patnaik the eldest son of Biju Patnaik first denied being part of Biju Patnaik’s political legacy. Navin Patnaik came reluctantly in to the polity. None from Odisha ever know who the man is Naveen Patnaik, who couldn’t speak the mother tongue of his father.

It was Vajpayee's wave that in fact gave them good results in 1998 parliamentary elections where BJD won 9 seats; BJP won 7 seats leaving 5 seats to Congress. However for assembly elections because of the presence of Janata Dal, Congress should have expected to do better. But its internal groupism (JB group, Gamango group, Hemananda Biswal group) for which the Congress lost comprehensibly in 2000 bagging only 26 seats. Janata Dal too lost the elections getting only 1 seat.

During 2004, Navin Patnaik was so dependent on Vajpayee wave; he had to announce legislative assembly elections along with Lok Sabha elections one year early! That was really opportune time for the Congress to return to the power. But unfortunately the Congress missed the opportunity because of its own fault.

In the Context of BJP:
BJP is the party whose popularity, craze and wave made Naveen Patnaik chief Minister. In the absence of real cadres BJD in fact totally depended upon BJP cadres. It’s the hard work of BJP workers which brought NDA to power in Odisha in 2000 and 2004. However BJD did the smart trick. It realized during 2004 following NDA’s loss in the Parliament elections, that ground work is necessary.

BJP committed mistake of being over confident, taking people of Odisha for granted. After getting the power, the link to the ground is lost. Leaders distanced themselves from common people and workers, whereas BJD had initiated hard work at the ground. They have taken many ignored BJP ground workers in to their fold, created cadres and worked very hard, while BJP leaders enjoyed power, delinked from ground and taken for granted that BJD can’t leave them.

Thus during 2009 elections, BJD started bargaining with BJP on seat sharing on win-ability criteria. BJD indicated that it’s going to give some 25 seats in assembly elections and not more than five in Lok Sabha elections. Earlier the arrangement for Lok Sabha was BJD-11 and BJP-9 and assembly election, BJD-77 and BJP-63. This seat sharing controversy couldn’t be solved and BJP withdrawn support from the BJD government.

They have gone into assembly elections independently. But they find the reality hunting them back. No ground worker, no support made them seriously biting dust in 2009 election, they got only 6 seats. The dream of Odisha BJP ended with a serious nightmare.

Since then one would expected that BJP would take some corrective measures. But unfortunately even BJP high command didn’t look in to the matter. The same old rejected leaders (Juel Oram, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, Manmohan Samal etc) still rule the Odisha BJP and taking the party in the process of complete rout in Odisha.

They could have brought Dharmendra Behera in to Odisha polity, projected him as the face of Odisha BJP, but there must be something, which stops all these good initiative. Now AAP is knocking the door of Odisha politics and one can see 2014 election in Odisha between AAP and BJD! People of Odisha have much craze for Narendra Modi. But in the absence of regional party leader and structure, I don’t think BJP gaining any seat here!

Thus it can be concluded that Naveen Patnaik is not invincible rather the Congress and BJP committed political suicide in Odisha polity. One shouldn’t be surprised if Naveen Patnaik led BJD losses 2014 elections, and instead of Congress or BJP, AAP gets into power.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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hemen parekh
ABC has spoken ! Arrogant Brahmin of Congress ( ABC ) says," You cannot be a PM Tea Vendor of India ! You are destined to die a tea vendor And breed some more tea vendors Live in slums, You Who are a mere tea vendor Vegetable vendor Newspaper vendor Delivery boy Roadside cobbler Sweeper of the street Maid servant to my wife Ayah of my children , You cannot be a PM ! You must continue to live In abject poverty And learn to survive On Rs 27 per day ( what we have fixed fairly ! ) Drink 2 cups of tea And eat 2 slices of bread, Till you die of starvation Or choose to commit suicide ( Choice is yours ! ) But you cannot be a PM ! You may continue to die of dengue Or of malaria or TB Or a disease of your choice You, Who are a mere Dalit Backward Class Scheduled caste Manual Scavenger Harijan , Bhangi Searcher of food in piles of garbage : Go jump into gutters Or in polluted rivers Stop dreaming of clean air Or a glass of clean water Inhale the acrid smell of chemicals Till your lungs corrode ! Don't sleep if you cannot On our freezing footpaths, But do not dream Of becoming a PM ! You stupid fool , Learn well your Gita , Bible , Koran And when we slap you with an insult ( " You cannot be a PM " ) Turn your other cheek ! And silently wait For rest of this Century ( a mere 86 years ! ) As you have waited For the past 66 years Till then Keep toiling In the dark dungeons called Dharavi ( we have one in every city ) Or under the scorching sun Of our parched fields And if you won't vote for us Who cares ? You Who are a mere 400 million , Who cares for you ! How dare you dream To be our PM ? A post that We The sycophants Have reserved for our exalted leader For eternity to come ! Didn't you hear our leader say , Congress is idea Not an institution, And poverty is a state of mind ? So , stop imagining the unimaginable You cannot be our PM - ever " The ABC has spoken At the AICC session , Now it is your turn to speak Vendors of India ! * hemen parekh ( 18 Jan 2014 / Mumbai )
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