Naveen Patnaik elected leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly - Hindustan Times
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Naveen Patnaik elected leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Jun 19, 2024 08:28 PM IST

The BJD legislature party, which met at the party’s state headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, unanimously elected Naveen Patnaik as the leader

Former Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik was elected as the head of the 51-member BJD Legislature Party and leader of Opposition in the state Assembly heralding a new chapter in his two-and-a-half-decade-long political career.

Naveen Patnaik. (File)
Naveen Patnaik. (File)

The BJD legislature party, which met at the party’s state headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, unanimously elected the 77-year-old Patnaik as the leader while Rairakhol MLA Prasanna Acharya was elected as the deputy leader of Opposition in the state Assembly.

Naveen Patnaik’s father Biju Patnaik, too, was elected leader of Opposition in 1995 after the Janata Dal lost in 1995 Assembly election to Congress led by JB Patnaik. Biju Patnaik remained leader of Opposition for a year till 1996 when he was elected to Lok Sabha from Aska seat. He died in April 1997.

Senior MLA and former Speaker Pramila Mallick would be Opposition chief whip while former minister Pratap Keshari Deb was named as the deputy chief whip in the Assembly.

After being in power for 24 years on a trot, the Naveen Patnaik government bit dust in the just-concluded assembly polls losing to BJP that won 78 seats. BJD managed to win 51 seats. Patnaik served as the chief minister of Odisha for five consecutive terms from 2000 to June 2024.

Political analysts said despite his advancing age, there was no option left before BJD to make anyone else leader of the legislature party as only he would be able to keep the flock of MLAs intact and prevent possible BJP attempts to poach and weaken the regional party.

“Despite the loss, Naveen Patnaik remains hugely popular, and the former chief minister could use it to keep his flock together. But the party’s future depends on his health. BJD would not be able to exploit any weakness of the Mohan Majhi government for at least a year as the political momentum lies with BJP,” said political analyst Rabi Das.

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