Lok Sabha elections 2019: UPA or NDA, Naveen Patnaik relevance can’t be undermined
In 2014, he bucked a nationwide Modi wave to win a record 117 of the 147 seats in the state assembly polls and 20 seats of the 21 seats in Lok Sabha polls.Updated: May 23, 2019 07:36 IST
From a one-time dilettante who teamed up with erstwhile royal Martand Singh to start Psychedelhi, an art boutique in the 1960s, to being the four-time chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has surely come a long way.
After the death of his father Biju Patnaik 1997, he headed Biju Janata Dal, the newly-formed regional outfit to cash-in on the sympathy wave and soon became the chief minister in 2000 in partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party he bitterly fought this election.
In 2009, he snapped his ties with BJP just ahead of the assembly elections, but won comfortably. In 2014, he bucked a nationwide Modi wave to win a record 117 of the 147 seats in the state assembly polls and 20 seats of the 21 seats in Lok Sabha polls.
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Now attempting to win a record fifth time(so far achieved only by Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim and Late Jyoti Basu of West Bengal) in 2019, a lot is at stake for Patnaik who is up against a severe anti-incumbency, a resurgent BJP and a hugely popular PM Narendra Modi, who over last two months criss-crossed the state with the war-cry of having a double engine sarkaar(having BJP governments at Delhi and Bhubaneswar).
Though the chief minister has dismissed the exit poll prediction of his party dropping some Lok Sabha seats, it is necessary for Patnaik to win not just the assembly polls, but also stay relevant in the national politics by winning as many Lok Sabha seats from the 21 that went to polls. If the NDA falls short of majority and Patnaik manages to win more than a dozen Lok Sabha seats, his support would be crucial.
Even if the NDA manages majority on its own, a bigger share of Lok Sabha seats in his kitty would help Patnaik carve a respectable place in the NDA, of which his party was a partner till 2009.
The same argument holds true for UPA if it were to come within sniffing distance of power. Patnaik with his flock of Lok Sabha MPs can bargain a better deal for Odisha and keep his position secure.