What Next For BJD After Odisha Poll Debacle?

Bhubaneswar: As the saffron surge demolished the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) fort in Odisha, the regional party is now undergoing a difficult phase after being ousted from power for the first time in the state. Apart from its dismal show in the Assembly elections, BJD also faced complete rout in Lok Sabha polls. The regional party has no representation in Lok Sabha as all its candidates lost the polls. After ruling the state for 24 years, BJD will now have to perform as opposition party. Observers wonder as to what lies ahead for the regional party and how it will be able to regain people’s trust. All eyes are now set on party supremo Naveen Patnaik to see his next move.

BJD In Opposition Role

After being in power for over 24 years, it may appear awkward for BJD to perform the role of an opposition party. Out of power for the first time, the regional party needs to build itself as a strong and effective opposition and Naveen may take steps in this direction. While he may take up the role of leader of opposition, another senior leader can be given major responsibility in the Assembly. For the first time, the regional party will raise problems of the people to corner the government in the legislature. Its long experience in governance is likely to be of immense help for BJD to perform as an effective opposition party in the Assembly.

Who Will Succeed Naveen?

Ahead of the just-concluded twin elections, Naveen had made it clear that his close confidant V K Pandian is not going to be his successor. He had asserted that the people of Odisha will choose his political heir. However, there is no way the people can select his successor. Therefore, Naveen is likely to choose his political heir. Now the question is who has the potential to succeed him. Pandian had been playing a key role in both administration and party matters as Naveen’s undeclared successor. However, his role apparently sparked resentment among people and led to BJD’s poll debacle. Therefore, if he continues to play any major role in decision-making, people are unlikely to accept it. Naveen’s nephew Arun Patnaik or someone from their family may take charge of the regional party, named after legendary leader Biju Patnaik. Several BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raised questions about Naveen’s health condition during election campaign. Therefore, the BJD supremo is likely to choose his successor in the party.

What Next For Pandian?

Described as the second most important power centre in BJD, Pandian had announced that he would take ‘sanyas’ (retirement) from politics if Naveen fails to become Chief Minister for a sixth term. There has been no information about Pandian after declaration of election results. He had been wielding tremendous power and influence since 2014. He was stated to have played a significant role in distribution of BJD tickets for 2019 elections too. Despite being in service, Pandian used to meddle in BJD party matters. After taking voluntary retirement, he became number two in BJD. Pandian dominated each and every sphere during Naveen’s fifth term as Chief Minister. From ticket distribution to election campaign, he played a key role in the run up to the 2024 elections. He made whirlwind tours of the state holding roadshows and addressing rallies. However, many attribute BJD debacle to Pandian’s interference. All these have raised a big question mark about his political future.

Naveen To Set Things Right!

BJD’s popularity appeared to have collapsed amid BJP’s onslaught over Odia Asmita plank. Therefore, Naveen needs to ascertain the reason behind BJD’s dismal show at the hustings and take corrective measures. He may revamp the party organisation and find out as to where things went wrong. He will try to keep the party rank and file united and take concrete steps to prevent the organisation from getting disintegrated following the poll debacle. All eyes are not set on Naveen to watch his next move.

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