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Which way Naveen Patnaik will go: Wait till May 16th to know
Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik left for Delhi on 22nd April. Sources in the CM's office claim that this is a private trip. While the election is on, and all the leaders are on high entropy, Naveen Patnaik leaving for the national capital should not have so much of fuss around it. But this has made major news, albeit in the inner pages, in almost all the major newspapers in Odisha. And this is not without reasons.

In the last week of May 2012 he had left for his maiden foreign trip to United Kingdom and during that period only on 29th May his Advisor and the second power centre in the ruling Biju Janata Dal, Uncle Pyarimohan Mohaptra had attempted a failed coup. From then onwards Naveen had all the reasons to get a fright at the prospect of a prolonged absence from the state capital. But this time, it is different.

Naveen has worked really hard in his effort to achieve 123+ seats in the assembly polls, a record that his father late Biju Pattanaik has achieved in 1990. Apart from this he also has to prove a point to his beleaguered Advisor Uncle Pyari that without him too, he can win the assembly elections with a thumping majority. He has put all this might to achieve this. He did not want to leave any stone unturned to achieve this feat. As is his character to not to trust others (he even does not have a second in command in his party for all practical purposes, though there are ceremonial Vice Presidents) for the elections as he was the sole star campaigner for the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Though a few cine stars were paraded and the leaders from the western Odisha lent their might after the elections in their areas was over, but all through it was Naveen Patnaik on whose lone shoulder the election campaign hinged. After such a grueling campaign he certainly deserves a retreat, to recoil and connect to his socialite friends. But, the insiders have a different story to share on this.

It is being discussed in the party circles (that too taking a lot of pride in it) that Naveen has flown to Delhi to meet the third front leaders there and play a key role in the possible third front alliance. Some even have gone to the extent of professing that Naveen could be the next Prime Minister of India. Leaving aside this over do, any alliance. But, that seems a remote possibility as of now not as much for the poor prospects of the third front in the post poll scenario, but for his own compulsions.

While Naveen has maintained distance from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) it was expected that he will align with the Third Front. But, that he did not do. He even did not attend the meetings of the third front leaders in New Delhi. So in the pre-poll situation, Naveen has not committed himself to any of the political formations like the UPA, NDA or the Third Front.

Political observers feel that this is not out of any definite positioning, rather a political compulsion for him. The compulsion is the slew of scams lined up against the ruling party in the state like the mining scam, Chitfund scam, coal scam and many more. With the dangers of a CBI enquiry looming large for the mining scam as well as the chitfund scam, that has been further fortified with the CBI director coming calling Naveen, averting such an enquiry is the greatest concern for Naveen.

Till date all these scams are being probed by the state vigilance. The state vigilance has taken care to see to it that the white Kurta of Naveen is not tainted. But once the central investigating agency takes over the reins of investigation, the dirt of the mining scam and the 'chit fund' scam might stain Naveen's white Kurta. Politicians being tainted are nothing very unusual in our country. Rather than a vice this is seen by many as a virtue, a necessary qualification for a politician worth the salt.

Despite such taints politicians are continuing with boom boom political carriers, continuing to be popular mass leaders or even leaders who are relevant. But for Naveen, the taints on his 'payjama kurta' may very well turn out to be his nemesis. Naveen is voted to power again and again primarily because of four factors - his image as an untainted leader, a series of freebies starting from one rupee rice to government support for cremation, son of Biju Patnaik and a divided opposition. Taint on his kurta will be a great blow to the BJD government. And now that is what worries Mr Patnaik. He has to align with the party that will be in power, to avert such eventualities. So he cannot take the risk of a pre-poll alliance.

With the opinion polls giving a higher chance to Modi-led BJP forming the government, has made the task of the BJD supremo more difficult. BJD had snapped its ties with the BJP on the grounds of it being a communal party while they were running a coalition government. Subsequently Naveen caused a lot of embarrassment to BJP representative and his friend Chandan Mitra while he had come for a seat sharing talk by out rightly rejecting any alliance with BJP. But those are not reasons enough for not having a tie up with BJP.

Because depending on the political exigencies that emerge after the ballots are counted, BJP may need BJD all the more than BJD needing it. Even if such a situation does not happen, it can strike an alliance with the BJP. Because they say, in politics there are no permanent friends or foes. But Naveen's problems are different. The insiders say that Naveen was under compulsion to sever ties with BJP because of the pressure from the friends abroad in the aftermath of Kandhamal riots. This pressure holds well till date. But, if the situation so demands Naveen certainly will not mind going with BJP for the peer pressure.

But, the decision to go with the BJP will not be without a lot of soul searching. As the saying in the vine yard goes, in the aborted coup by Uncle Pyari, Naveen government was saved because the promised support from the Congress legislators did not come through. And Sonia Gandhi is credited to have lent her support in ensuring that the Congress legislators do not lend their support. A family friendship did the trick. That is how the gossip makes the round in political circles in Bhubaneswar. How much this favor will weigh down Naveen to change sides also is an aspect to be observed.

The speculations made in the political circles in Odisha about Naveen trying to play a key role in the making of the Third Front is during this visit is just a facade. One should not be surprised to find Naveen not in the political circles, but in his friends and socialites circles during his Delhi trip. He will wait till the final ballot is counted and then only will take a calculated move. Because, Naveen is known for keeping his cards close to his chest till the patience of the opponents wear out.

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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