With Baijayant Panda's Loss in Odisha’s Kendrapara, The Naveen Patnaik Brand Gets Cast in Stone
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With Baijayant Panda's Loss in Odisha’s Kendrapara, The Naveen Patnaik Brand Gets Cast in Stone

By News18 calender  25-May-2019

With Baijayant Panda's Loss in Odisha’s Kendrapara, The Naveen Patnaik Brand Gets Cast in Stone

There are two deep-rooted beliefs among leaders and workers of Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which made a clean sweep for a record fifth under its chief CM Naveen Patnaik. First, the party and its government will never face any anti-incumbency as long as Patnaik is at the helm and secondly, whoever revolts against Patnaik is doomed to a political wilderness. BJD’s stunning victory in the Assembly polls, in which the party won 112 of the state’s 147 Assembly seats, proved the party’s first maxim with elan. For many in the party, industrial-tuned-politician Baijayant Panda’s defeat to the BJD candidate in the prestigious Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency proved the second maxim. The four-term MP, who used to be a close aide and confidant of Patnaik, was the BJP candidate in Kendrapara this time. He had won this coastal constituency on a BJD ticket both in 2009 and 2014. Prior to that, the regional party had nominated him to the Rajya Sabha for two terms in 2000 and 2006. After this, Panda assumed a critical stand against the party, which led to his suspension and eventual resignation. Then in March, he joined the BJP and became the saffron party’s candidate in a constituency, where he was so far known to have a massive following. But Panda, who is popularly known as “Jay Panda”, lost to BJD’s actor-turned-Rajya Sabha member Anubhav Mohanty by a margin of 1,52,584 votes. Mohanty won the seat with 6,28,939 votes while Panda got 4,76,355 votes. In the last general elections, Panda had won by securing 6,01,574 votes. Few in the BJP had anticipated Panda’s defeat in his former constituency. His popularity had apparently increased after he joined the BJP. Following his move, he was appointed the saffron party’s national vice-president and spokesperson. The media seemed to love him, lapping up his praises for the BJP-led central government and his tirades against Odisha’s 19-year-old BJD rule. Panda, who owns a prominent Odia news channel, has also been popular on Twitter garnering 47.6 lakh followers. While Panda and BJP’s strategists are busy figuring out what went wrong, BJD leaders firmly believe that the people of Kendrapara punished him for “betraying Naveenbabu”.
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