The Opposition believes since the BJD supremo is now out in the open to lock horns with it, a decisive battle could be fought now.
Bhubaneswar: Never before in his political career spanning over two decades, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik dealt with so much pressure as he faces now, especially after the CBI’s action against the chit fund firms that have duped lakhs of people in the state.
The chief minister, who apprehends trouble from the federal probe agency, has finally declared support to Mamata Banerjee in her “fight” against the CBI, indicating the BJD was all set to take on the BJP on equal footing as against the Congress in the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
The rising strength of the BJP, especially after the 2017 rural polls under the leadership of Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has shaken the BJD camp. Despite his hallmark strategy of destabilising the rival camps by poaching their potential leaders that has ensured almost a trouble-free rule of two decades in the state, Mr Patnaik has failed to cause any damage to the saffron camp since 2014, though he has successfully poached some potential leaders of the Congress.
Analysts say Mr Patnaik was forced to change his policy of equidistance following recent scathing attacks on him by BJP national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Shah, who visited the state thrice in the past one month, dubbed the Naveen Patnaik government as “fused” and “burnt” transformer, incapable of transferring the benefits of the Narendra Modi’s Central government programmes to the people of Odisha. He also called upon the party workers to throw away the “fused transfer” and install a new one, a metaphorical expression exhorting organisation’s state leaders to work towards bringing in the BJP government in 2019 Assembly polls to be held with the Lok Sabha elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his three recent public rallies, questioned Naveen Patnaik government’s inability to spend money sanctioned by his government for the poor and other Central and Central-sponsored schemes.
What needs to be noted is that the reclusive politician Naveen Patnaik, who in the past rarely reacted to any political attacks on him, has started to defend himself, a development which the Opposition sees a victory in itself. The Opposition believes since the BJD supremo is now out in the open to lock horns with it, a decisive battle could be fought now.
“In the past, Naveen, as a king gets himself protected by his soldiers under the guidance of the able lieutenants, and launched counter-attacks on the opponents. Now that the BJP has knocked at his door with threatening strength to unseat him, he has changed his policy. The Odisha CM who never extended his support to bids at different points by former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha, Telengana CM and TRS leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy to raise a separate bloc of regional parties, now extended support to Mamata Banerjee when she sat on dharna.
As the CBI, following a Supreme Court order, has stepped up its probe activity, the TMC and BJD fear that the investigating agency might arrest some of their potential leaders that would affect image of their parties and adversely affect the poll prospects.
“In both West Bengal and Odisha, the chit fund firms looted small gullible depositors purportedly under the very patronage of the state administration. If the federal agency arrests any of their top leaders before the general elections, the BJD and the TMC would find it an uphill task to hold their forts,” said Prasanna Mohanty, a political commentator.