Polls acid test for Naveen
The 2004 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls will be an acid test for Naveen Patnaik, seeking a mandate on the basis of his performance and not ? as in 2000 ? on the basis of his father, Biju Patnaik?s legacy.india Updated: Mar 27, 2004 13:33 IST
The 2004 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls will be an acid test for Naveen Patnaik, seeking a mandate on the basis of his performance and not — as in 2000 — on the basis of his father, Biju Patnaik’s legacy.
Naveen, who stepped into his father’s shoes in 1997 rather reluctantly, has not looked back after taking the plunge. He is popular for his “honest and clean” image of an unconventional politician who isn’t power-hungry or willing to bend rules to make financial gains. For the BJD-BJP, the trump in Orissa is Naveen’s charisma.
The pitch for Naveen has, however, been queered somewhat by the appointment of JB Patnaik as PCC president last month. JB, who had been the the state's CM for nearly 14 years, is now racing against time to take on the alliance.
Congress circles here see JB’s experience as the biggest asset for the party. But the BJD-BJP leaders do not miss any opportunity to point out the skeletons in JB’s cupboard whenever the Congress charges Naveen with corruption and non-performance.
Naveen is harping on JB’s “irrelevance” in the new century. He described JB’s appointment as “very old wine in very old bottle”. And JB retorted, “Naveen should remember that old wine is costly and the polls will prove costly for him”.
The BJP finished a poor third after the BJD and the Congress in panchayat and municipal polls. The BJP had won 36 of the 63 seats allotted to it in 2000 Assembly polls despite a wave. The chances of it improving upon its 2000 tally are quite remote. If its tally of 2000 takes another beating this time, then the election thriller can go down to the wire.