Lok Sabha elections 2019: Can Odisha’s famous bachelor continue dream run?
In his 22 year-long political career Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has alway been on the ruling side. This summer, can Odisha’s most famous bachelor continue this dream run?
Patnaik’s rivals, at least some, see him in awe (others accuse him of whimsy) and his own colleagues find him enigmatic and immune to the many perks of power politics.
He started his career in Parliament in 1997 but loves to stay within the limits of his state.
His party won 20 of the state’s 21 seats in last Lok Sabha but it has a limited national agenda. People love to hear him but he talks as less as possible.
Now 72, Patnaik faces arguably his biggest political test as a strong Bharatiya Janata Party tries to expand footprint in the coastal state.
Patnaik was an MP in the ruling United Front in 1997. He became a union minister in 1998.
Since 2000, he has headed Odisha.
His politics hinges on three factors: populist measures , such as rice for ₹1/ kilo for poor people or the new guaranteed income scheme for farmers; allowing bureaucrats to run the administration much like what the late J Jayalalithaa (he enjoyed a great rapport with her) did in Tamil Nadu; and poaching popular leaders from rival parties to minimise contest.
“He is a very different political leader. He doesn’t care much about many sides of the administration, but remains very glued about schemes or matters that can affect votes,” said former Odisha chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mahapatra.
Many of his party MPs lament his limited interest in national politics. Once, party MP Pinaki Misra suggested to him that the BJD should have a Delhi office. Naveen replied: “Why do you need a separate office? You can use my (ancestral) house there” and closed the topic.