Naveen Patnaik took over his father Biju Pattnaik’s Lok Sabha seat in 1996 as a member of the Janata Dal. In 1997, Patnaik split from Janata Dal over its failure to ally with the BJP, and formed the Biju Janata Dal or BJD. The BJD was one of the main professedly secular parties of the National Democratic Alliance.
Much of the popularity and electoral success of the party is credited to his image as an incorruptible and ‘clean’ personality.BJD won nine seats in the 1998 general election and Naveen was named the union minister for Mines. In the 1999 general elections, the party won 10Lok Sabha seats.
Naveen Patnaik stepped down as Minister of Mines and left the Lok Sabha after the BJD-BJP victory in the Legislative Assembly Elections in 2000 and became the Chief Minister of Odisha for the first time.
The party won a majority of seats in the state legislative assembly in the 2000 and 2004 elections in alliance with BJP. It won 11 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 elections. However the BJD parted ways with the BJP for both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections 2009 citing differences in seat sharing.
In the election that followed (2009), BJD won 14 seats and secured strong 108 legislative seats out of 147 seats. In the last election (2014) the party won a huge victory securing 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 117 of 147 Odisha Legislative Assembly seats.
BJD has a staunch secular and democratic outlook, and has always taken a firm and unequivocal stand against communal forces. ‘Equidistance’ from BJP and the Congress has also been top on the agenda of the party. Since its inception, the avowed stand of the BJD is to fight against corruption in public life and the deliberate and wilful neglect of the State by successive Governments at the Centre. The Party believes in incessantly working towards the upliftment of weaker sections of society and fighting against social injustice.
BJD has always stood for, supported and advocated in favour of women, youths, farmers, labourers, workers’ unions (Labour unions), religious minorities, and the weaker/backward sections of the society. It is committed to ensure provisions of food, shelter and clothing to the common man at affordable and sustainable prices. Odisha has witnessed unprecedented growth and development under the stewardship of Naveen Patnaik.
Inspired to make the dream of legendary Biju Babu a reality, the mission of BJD, is to protect the dignity and self-respect of 4 crores Odias and to focus on the all-round development .
Providing a secular, incorruptible government based on the basic tenets of social justice and equality for all, has been the guiding principle and values of the party. Politically, the BJD fights an unequal battle. On one hand, there is the dishevelled and demoralised opposition .Then there is the well-oiled party machine of the ruling party, working in clockwork precision to make sure it reaches the last mile – and the last voter.
But what exactly is it that makes the BJD and its supremo Naveen Patnaik tick?
There are many reasons for the pre-eminent position that Naveen has enjoyed in the politics of the state in his seventeen years rule.
The fact remains that the people of the state find no one in the other two major parties – either the Congress or the BJP – of his stature.He is someone whose appeal cuts across barriers of region, caste and factions and one who commands the unquestioned loyalty of every party member.
Naveen has successfully created the impression that he is with the people. He has done this through a series of sops that take care of practically every stage of the poor man’s life – from birth to death. If the ‘Mamata Yojana’ provides an incentive for expecting mothers, the ‘Harishchandra Yojana’ takes care of the funeral expenses of the dead. In between, there are free school uniforms, bicycles and laptops for the students and Re 1/kg rice, free medicines and an array of pensions.
“I believe that Odisha will be one of the most advanced states of India in 10 years from now. We have the vision and the resolve to realize this.”This sums up the person and the party he heads.
Bhaskar Parichha is a Bhubaneswar-based senior journalist and author. He writes on almost every conceivable topic but is more obsessive about writings on society and culture.