Odisha chief minister and the ruling BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik unleashed a storm on the BJP by referring to it as a sinking party. Known to be a reclusive politician, he said the BJP is sinking rapidly.
What made Naveen go for such bold utterances? Such offensive statements by the chief minister have been unheard of in his political career. Contrary to the style of many of his contemporaries who revel in vendetta politics, Naveen has preferred to stay collected and composed. He has also urged his party leaders to abstain from mudslinging and cheap politicking. BJD under Naveen has believed in quiet, unpublicised homework. Our performance will do the talking has been Naveen’s popular refrain over the years.
Digressing from his calibrated strategy, is the BJD boss sending some message to his party men and the Opposition, especially the BJP? His articulation of the BJP as a sinking party must have shell shocked the latter. Naveen did not take to verbal invectives even when the residence of V Karthikeyan Pandian, his private secretary was vandalised by some irate BJP workers. Even when he mouthed his displeasure, he chose not to name the BJP and only condemned the misadventure by a national party.
Speculations are already floating on the possibility of BJD cobbling up with like minded parties to stage a Third Alliance. But for the moment, Naveen has scotched all rumours though not ruled out any changing equation in the future. BJD has been maintaining equidistance from the Congress and the BJP. The electoral reverses which BJP suffered at the hands of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar by polls must be weighing on in Naveen’s mind. In Uttar Pradesh, chief minister Yogi Adityanath lost the prestige war when he was drubbed by the SP in Gorakhpur, a constituency which has sent him to Parliament four times. Yogi’s deputy also conceded defeat in Phulpur. In Bihar, the RJD wrested control of Araria. Before the outcomes of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, BJP was already done in Odisha’s Bijepur by elections by a rampaging BJD. Naveen’s image and charisma has remained intact while questions are already being raised on the Narendra Modi magic fading.
With favourable political swings backing him, Naveen is possibly challenging the BJP for the coveted battle in Odisha. Amit Shah, BJP’s national president is setting eyes on conquering Odisha at the next elections by grabbing 120+ assembly seats. Shah is supposed to visit Odisha sometime in April to appraise his party’s preparedness. But, the BJD has labelled BJP and Shah’s claims as unrealistic and preposterous. Naveen is aware of his party’s unrivalled organisational strength and his appeal with his voters. But, it seems the BJD boss is keen to take on the BJP in the game of loud rhetoric as well. Naveen’s sharp jibes could also be aimed at demoralising the BJP cadre in Odisha. Is this the BJD’s latest gameplan? We will fathom better as events unfold in the run up to the grand electoral spectacle of 2019.