Naveen Patnaik bows out but gracious in defeat. BJP can’t help but reciprocate

1 month ago 10

After 24 years, Naveen Patnaik will no longer be at the helm of affairs in Odisha. Instead, for the first time, a BJP Chief Minister will lead the state government. The former Chief Minister was nothing but gracious in the defeat as he attended his successor’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.

Naveen Patnaik, known for his balancing acts with the BJP-led Centre in the NDA 2.0, was welcomed by the BJP top leaders on the stage set up for Odisha’s next Chief Minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had a long chat with Patnaik on the stage.

#WATCH | Bhubaneswar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with former Odisha CM and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik after the swearing-in ceremony of CM Mohan Charan Majhi concludes. — ANI (@ANI) June 12, 2024

The visuals from today highlighted Patnaik’s credibility, though the sun has set on his 24-year reign.

Patnaik had skillfully maneuvered political relations during his tenure. He projected himself to be equidistant from the two national parties, the BJP and the Congress. While he welcomed Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee when the idea of Opposition bloc was being floated around initially, he chose to stay out of it.

Not just that, Patnaik had often bailed out the BJP-led NDA in the past when Parliament saw contentious issues such as a no-trust motion, with his BJD, a non-BJP party, staging a walkout.

It was only this election that saw the BJP and BJD lock horns and Naveen Patnaik and PM Modi exchange barbs. Perhaps it was the nature of the election, but there was no holding back on punches from either side.

During the poll campaign, PM Modi advocated for a Chief Minister who "understands Odia language and culture". He challenged Naveen Patnaik, the longest-serving Chief Minister of state, to name all the districts in the state.

The BJP also went after Patnaik's aide, VK Pandian, calling him an "outsider" and accusing him of attempting to grab power.

Patnaik, in turn, asked the PM how much he remembered about Odisha. He also dismissed rumours about his health and said PM Modi, who called him his "good friend" in the past, could have just called if he was genuinely concerned.

The poll banter continued and as the election ended, the BJP emerged victorious in Odisha, wresting power from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The jibes and barbs stopped there. For the oath-taking ceremony of the new Chief Minister, the BJP decided to invite Naveen Patnaik.

New Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi went a step ahead and personally handed over the invite to Naveen Patnaik.

Patnaik was welcomed on stage with no less a fanfare than is deserving of Odisha’s stalwart. Union Home Minister Amit Shah walked ahead to warmly welcome him, while Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and JP Nadda greeted him with folded hands.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the PM Modi-Naveen Patnaik bonhomie was for all to see. PM Modi was seen holding a conversation with Naveen Patnaik, who he had once called his "friend".

PM Modi being greeted by former Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik during the swearing-in ceremony of new Odisha government. (PTI photo)

Naveen Patnaik, who lost the Chief Minister's seat, was nothing but gracious as he wished his successor well.

“I hope and believe that his leadership, strength and ability will work in the service of the people of Odisha,” Naveen Patnaik said on the day Manjhi took oath as Odisha Chief Minister.

Published On:

Jun 12, 2024

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