Pyari Mohan Mohapatra was really the brain behind BJD’s all electoral success. He was called as ‘Chanakya’ of BJD. He was an excellent strategist for BJD. It was always said that Navin is the mask where as real power centre was with Pyari Mohan. He was the inventor of win-ability base on which he finalized candidates for 2009 election and shiver relations with BJP.
It gave grand success to BJD both in the Assembly and Parliament elections. His strategy and sharp intelligence can be understood from the 2010 Rajya Sabha elections where 3rd candidate of BJD won despite having no number defeating BJP-Congress backed independent candidate Tara Parasad Patnaik.
For this election all the BJD MLAs were tutored practically in class room instructing individual MLAs on who to vote whom as 1st Choice and to whom as 2nd choice.
The mathematics was very minutely done and even there was mock voting for practice. With so much brilliance and strategy Mohapatra created history by getting the 3rd candidate of BJD making BJP-Congress candidate biting the dust despite having numbers. (Of course 2 Congress MLA and one BJP MLA remained absent during that time for which credit goes to Pyari Mohapatra’s bargaining).
Congress and BJP were so upset that even on their request, and the then President Pratibha Patil wrote Election Commission for inquiring in to the allegations of horse trading! But see the 2014 Rajya Sabha elections! BJD had the numbers in his favour yet couldn’t make its fourth candidate (independent candidate supported by BJD and BJP) win the election because of lack of strategy or rather lack of a strategist.
Pyari Mohapatra was expelled from BJD on 6th June 2012 because of his attempt to topple Navin Patanaik from Chief Minister's Post. The expelling was right, but for electoral win you need a strategists and none is there to strategies.
Navin Patnaik no doubt is very popular. But popularity never wins an election. Had popularity wins election, Vajpayee government would have never been defeated. Elections are always won or lost at polling booths. Booth managements are done on lots of ground work with right candidate and right strategy. If your supporters don’t come to booth for voting, how can you win?
Pyari Mohapatra was a champion of this art and perhaps due to this skill he was always respected by party MLAs and was really considered as the real power centre. Navin never understood the nitty-gritty of ground level politics. Thus in the absence of Pyari Mohapatra, Navin Patnaik immediately requires a proper strategists else they would be in serious problem! BJP and Congress started the ground work in their style where as BJD is still riding on Navin’s popularity!
2) Image of Navin Patnaik is dented by Mining scam:
Supreme Court appointed M.B. Shah Commission already indicted both the state government and the central government on various irregularities in the 60000 crore rupees illegal mining scam. The commission recommended for further investigation by CBI, which Odisha government is opposing.
Interestingly the central government also agreed with Odisha government’s objection of CBI investigation citing that state vigilance department is doing the investigation. It appears that both state government and central government are trying to cover up the scam. The Supreme Court is due to give its verdict on 3rd March whether there should be CBI investigation or not and in all likelihood SC may ask for CBI investigation. Thus just on the eve of election, Navin Patnaik’s image has taken a beating. This is definitely a bad news for BJD.
3) Internal disputes in the Party:
The relation between MPs and the MLAs of all the constituencies are at all time low. The MLAs are divided in two parts. Those who were loyal to Pyari Mohapatra have now been sidelined whereas the MLAs who were anti-Pyari Mohaptra (40% MLAs and most MPs) are dominating the party. This internal fighting is growing larger day by day. Such dissents were earlier controlled by Pyari Mohan.
Though everybody appears to be loyal to Navin Patnaik, but Many MLAs aren’t sure of getting ticket and hence started their ground work long back for alternative options such as contesting independently or switching to other parties. Now it’s evident that ground level workers and activists always have close tie up with MLAs than MPs. Navin doesn’t know who is good or bad. Thus vested interest fraction of BJD would advise on ticket distribution and this may go against BJD’s interest!
Finally, Navin Patnaik must take a note of 1995 assembly elections. Biju Patnaik was the most popular and tallest leader at that time. Opinion polls and experts predicted that Biju Patnaik’s Janata Dal will retain the power with thumping majority. When results came, even the Congress was surprised to find them in power. It was because Biju Patnaik depended on his popularity and big rallies only, whereas J.B. Patnaik didn’t do a single rally but remained at ground with his workers and worked hard at booth level to clinch the victory!