Naveen weathers Modi wave, scams, storms

Naveen weathers Modi wave, scams, storms

For Naveen Patnaik and his ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), 2014 began with uncertainty.

In only his second election after severing ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he had to grapple with the “Modi wave” sweeping the nation. Against the clamour of change, the incumbency factor was more a cause for concern than an assurance of victory at the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in April.

In the end though, the “Naveen magic” prevailed over the “Modi wave” in the state as the BJD sent 20 out of 21 members to the 16th Lok Sabha from the state, bettering its own 2009 figures of 14.

In Assembly polls, too, the party handed crushing defeats to the Congress and the BJP, bettering its tally to 117 from 103 in 2009 in the 147-strong legislature.  The poll performance enabled Patnaik to seal his position as the strong leader, as he was sworn in for the record fourth consecutive term as Odisha chief minister.

Results in Odisha added to the Congress nightmare, as the party lost all the six Lok Sabha seats it held in 2009, facing a whitewash for the first time since independence. Its tally in the Assembly also reduced from 27 to 16.

The BJP managed to win one Lok Sabha seat and increase its Assembly tally from six to 10. The party rewarded its sole MP from Odisha Joel Oram with a ministerial birth at the Centre.

Even as Patnaik and the BJD rejoiced at the spectacular poll performance, the party was dragged into the multi-crore chit fund scam probe, which the CBI has been holding under the Supreme Court direction.

In a major embarrassment to the party, the probe agency arrested its sitting Lok Sabha member Rama Chandra Hansda and four-time and a sitting member of the state Assembly Prabhat Tripathy for their alleged links with Nava Diganta and Artha Tatwa (AT), two of the 40 chit fund companies under the CBI scanner in the state.

Naveen acted swiftly to suspend the two tainted leaders and distanced his party and the government from the scam, though the war of words with the opposition that demanded his resignation continued till the year end.  The Congress and the BJP, which still smarted from the stunning poll defeat, seized on the issue and tried to push the BJD to the wall.
After Cyclone Phailin in 2013, the state had to deal with another major storm in 2014 in the form of Hudhud which headed towards its coastline in October.

With the predictions of the cyclone making landfall in the state, the government evacuated more than five lakh people from its coastal areas.

The state heaved a sigh of relief as the super cyclone hit the land in Vishakhapatnam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh instead of Gopalpur.

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