Why Naveen Patnaik Lost in Odisha

Why Naveen Patnaik Lost in Odisha

Naveen Patnaik's 24-year rule in Odisha created an anti establishment vote that also emptied a lot of politics space. Accordingly, the Prime Minister Narendra Narendra Modi's forecasted that June 4 would be the expiry date for Naveen Patnaik's 24-year rule in Odisha came true on Tuesday as the Bharatiya Janata Party cut short the Biju Janata Dal chief's ambition to become the longest serving chief minister of an Indian state.

The people's Chief Minister, this will be for the first time that Patnaik will sit in the Opposition.

The BJP plamed same game plan Hindu-Muslim divide, erroneous claim of building Ram Mandir that game plan had won 78 seats, up from 22 in 2019, in the 147 member assembly. The half-way mark is 74. While the BJD secured 51 seats, down from 112, the Congress won 14 seats, an increase of five seats from the 2019 tally.

In terms of vote share, the BJP got 39.89 per cent votes, up from 32.8 per cent in 2019. The BJD, on the other hand, saw its vote share dip to 40.18 per cent from 45.2 per cent in the last elections.

Since the party was formed in 1997, Patnaik has never lost an election.

However, the 77-year-old, who was making a bid for a record sixth consecutive term on a secular platform like his father, former Janata Leader Biju Patnaik and could not play a dirty role like BJP, lost the election in Kantabanji constituency, though he retained his Hinjili constituency.

In the melee, at least eight ministers in his cabinet lost the elections.

Unlike the 2019 elections, there was no split voting this time in the state that voted for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously.

Apart from the increasing anti-incumbency and fatigue factor, the verdict was more of a negative vote against the BJD. 

Patnaik overtly relied on his trusted aide V K Pandian, who quit the Indian Administrative Service and joined the BJD in 2023.

Patnaik couldn't get access to the ground reality. The tide started to turn against the BJD when Pandian toured the districts gathering people's grievances last year.

As the BJP lacked the organisational strength to match the BJD's, the party led by Narendra D Modi mounted the campaign with emotive issues linked to Odia pride, the Jagannatha temple, that struck a chord with voters.

To beat anti-incumbency, the BJD gave tickets to Opposition leaders, which resulted in revolt among the party cadres.

The BJD focused on welfare measures and less on governance, while the BJP managed to break the ruling party's safe vote bank of women and youth.

The BJD had been banking on more than 7 million women working in self help groups who had over 600,000 groups.

However, they could have opted for the BJP's Hindutva vote bank, and promise of Rs 50,000 cash for the next two years under the Subhadra Yojana.

Though the BJD claimed it maintained equidistance from national parties, it had erroneously favoured the BJP's Bills / causes in Parliament over the past 10 years.

Once allies for nearly 10 years till 2009, the parties were engaged in a fierce battle in Odisha after the talks of a pre-poll alliance between the two parties failed in February-March.

What is next for Patnaik and the BJD? Sahu said it might be the beginning of the end of Patnaik's political career and his BJD.

Age is certainly not on his side. His simplicity, pro poor and pro national status made him a scapegoat.

Patnaik might prefer to groom someone to take the BJD forward considering that the party still has a strong support base. However, the party might become susceptible to possible machinations by the BJP. 

Modi in his rallies questioned Patnaik's health condition and predicted that the BJD would disintegrate in six months.

The BJP would want to increase its tally in the state and many BJD leaders could switch sides.

As usual PM Narendra Modi thanked Odisha for the 'resounding victory for good governance and celebrating Odisha's unique culture.'

The BJP will leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the dreams of people and taking Odisha to new heights of progress, PM Modi routinely and casually said.

There were quite a few in the race for the chief minister, including Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. But the BJP can always spring a surprise.

The BJP state chief Manmohan Samal, who stood firm against forming the alliance with the BJD, and the party's key leader in western Odisha, Suresh Pujari, could be the frontrunners for the chief minister post.

What worked for the BJP is its strong organisational strength.