A gripping battle in Odisha amid Lok Sabha, assembly polls | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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A gripping battle in Odisha amid Lok Sabha, assembly polls

May 10, 2024 09:59 AM IST

The ongoing assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the state have morphed into an exciting political battle that is drawing attention to the electoral exercise and evoking sharp response from people in the state

High decibel electioneering, tall claims, accusations and an all-out tussle for power have not been the hallmarks of elections in Odisha in the recent past. The ongoing assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the state have morphed into an exciting political battle that is drawing attention to the electoral exercise and evoking sharp response from people in the state.

Naveen Patnaik is battling to retain power for the sixth time in the state. (Representative file photo)
Naveen Patnaik is battling to retain power for the sixth time in the state. (Representative file photo)

With the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) putting up a spirited fight to retain power in the state for a sixth consecutive time and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have set its sights on wresting the state, the election campaign has piqued the interest of even those ambivalent to the polling exercise and the drama that ensues.

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The voters who have been accustomed to low-key rallies, a chief minister who is known for speaking less are now witness to a campaign that has turned into a high voltage drama. On the one hand are BJP’s big rallies addressed by fiery orators, grand road shows and aggressive canvassing and on the other are rallies with CM Naveen Patnaik, asserting his relevance and hold on the state. While he still does not speak much, his supporters as well as his opponents keep an eye out for his statement, usually a few words, that are released by is his trusted aide VK Pandian.

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Political watchers in Odisha claim that the last time the state witnessed an intense clash between opponents and an electrifying contest was in 1990 when Biju Patnaik became the CM following the huge mandate that the Janata Dal-led combine won.

While the combine won 129, BJD alone won 123 seats in the 147-seat assembly, a record that remains unbeaten till date. The election catapulted Patnaik, a former pilot, into the league of political giants.

The next exciting contest was in 2000, when Naveen contested the first state election, after the formation of the Biju Janata Dal in 1997. While there was sympathy and affection for “Biju Babu’s” son, the governance deficit during the Congress years had created space for the entry of a new player.

The foreign-returned, French speaking Naveen Patnaik was far from the quintessential son of the soil. But his faltering Odia, charismatic disposition and earnestness saw him win the election with just 68 seats and put him on the path to becoming the longest serving CM.

Now in his silver years, Patnaik is battling to retain power for the sixth time. But the BJP, a former ally, is unsparing. A political watcher in the state quipped that the outcome would depend on whether Patnaik’s popularity can withstand being dragged down by his aide Pandian’s unpopularity.

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