Patnaik protects family turfs with flying colours

Women activists greet Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik after party's victory in Odisha assembly elections, in Bhubaneswar, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Odisha Chief Minister and ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik managed to protect his two family turfs with flying colours in the Lok Sabha elections. The two Patnaik citadels are Kendrapara and Aska Lok Sabha constituencies in coastal Kendrapara and southern Ganjam districts, as well as assembly segments under them.

In Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency, BJD nominee and Patnaik’s personal choice, the actor-turned-politico Anubhav Mohanty drubbed heavyweight party rebel and BJP candidate Baijayant Panda by a handsome margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes. Even hardest of hard critics of the industrialist-turned-politico were expecting a better performance from Panda, a former protégé of Patnaik who had turned a foe after differences cropped up between him and the chief minister’s office (CMO) over various reasons.

What’s more important is, Panda who had won the prestigious coastal Parliament seat twice in 2009 and 2014 on a BJD ticket could not give a decent performance despite the BJP throwing its lot behind him. The party not only made him a national vice-president and national spokesperson just days after his entry into the saffron bandwagon but Prime Minister Modi had visited and personally campaigned for him in the constituency. The “Modi wave” which helped BJP to win many Lok Sabha seats across the country including some in Odisha had no impact in Kendrapara.

The battle for Kendrapara had also turned a prestige issue for Patnaik as the coastal constituency is regarded as the pocket borough of his late father, former chief minister Biju Patnaik. In the last fifty years, no candidate has ever won the seat without the support and blessings of Patnaik family.

Similarly, in Aska Lok Sabha constituency which was once represented by Patnaik as well as his father, the chief minister’s personal nominee, Pramila Bisoi, an apolitical 70-year-old from a local women self help group (SHG), defeated BJP nominee Anita Subhadarshini by a huge margin of more than two lakh and four thousand votes. Patnaik himself won from his traditional Hinjli constituency, an assembly segment under Aska Lok Sabha seat by a comfortable sixty thousand plus margin.

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