Is Naveen Patnaik a cue for Jagan to follow? Parallels between two Chief Ministers of neighbouring Odisha, Andhra Pradesh

Like Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy too is nursing an ambition to stay long in power

Is Naveen Patnaik a cue for Jagan to follow? Parallels between two Chief Ministers of neighbouring Odisha, Andhra Pradesh

AMARAVATHI: Come March 5, 14th Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik will be completing 24 years in office uninterrupted. He ascended to the position. He is on a roll for the last almost quarter of a century. He split from the Janata Dal in 1997 and formed his own party Biju Janata Dal (BJD), christening his party after his late father Biju Patnaik, who was a three-time Chief Minister of Odisha.

Well, what about him now?

A parallel -- may not be in all respects, but surely in political behaviour – has a parallel to another person who is Chief Minister of his neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

If Patnaik walked out of the Janata Dal and named his party as Biju Janata Dal after his late father, YS Jagan had walked out of the Congress and christened his party after his father YSR Congress.

What else are similar? Their politics run on a prioritised templates prepared by them.

One major contrast between them is that Naveen Patnaik was part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), before he walked out. Jagan has never been part of any alliance in the last 13 years of the existence of his party.

However, neither of them considered the parties they split from as their major opponents. If Naveen had scooped out the entire flock from Janata Dal to the BJD, so did Jagan leaving the spent forces behind to rot in the Congress.

After sensing the BJP’s aspirations to grow in Odisha, Naveen bade adieu to the NDA and the BJP as it had planned emerged as the main opposition with 22 Assembly seats as opposed to the BJD’s 111. But, can it go for the overkill? Perhaps, not. At least, not in the near future, as things appear.

When it comes to Jagan, the Telugu Desam Party headed by N Chandrababu Naidu is the main opposition. Literally, the only opposition in the outgoing Assembly with a niggardly 23 seats, as opposed to Jagan’s 151. Will he repeat the feat? May not be, though he has been angling for it with his oft-repeated slogan of “why not 175 out of 175?”.

No bad blood with BJP

Like Naveen doesn’t join the issue with the BJP, Jagan too has no qualms in being cordial with it.

Though Naveen has quit the NDA, he has never crossed swords with the BJP. He has maintained that ‘matter-of-fact’ cordial relationship with the ruling party at the Centre.

Jagan Mohan Reddy too never went against the BJP. On the other hand, he has always extended the “issue-based” support to the Centre, for he trusts good offices with the Union Government is always in the best interests of the State.

He had, in fact, announced to a huge gathering in Visakhapatnam a couple of years ago in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 12, 2022 in Visakhapatnam that he always desired a friendly relationship with the Centre (in other words, the BJP).

Like in Odisha, the BJP is for sure attempting to occupy the position of the main opposition in Andhra Pradesh. For now, this position of the BJP is not made explicit as it began hobonobbing with its two-time impudent partner Chandrababu Naidu.

While the BJP hasn’t opened its cards yet, it will likely join the alliance with TDP and Jana Sena, the latter being the conduit for stitching an alliance for now and a way for treading a perceived road map to gobble up the TDP.

In fact, the BJP has shown its true colours to the TDP by gobbling up its team of MPs in Rajya Sabha. Ironically, the TDP, in its desperation to come back to power, is not trusting the dictum of once bitten twice shy. But the BJP does forllow a larger and long-term agenda in politics.

Jagan, like his ‘elder brother’ Naveen Patnaik, keeps on blowing cold more than blowing hot with the BJP. Despite the Congress roping in his sister and pitting her against Jagan, he is not a trifle worried about the YS Sharmila factor in Andhra Pradesh politics.

Stay in power for long

His single-point agenda is to retain power, at any cost. He had actually announced that he wanted to be the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for 30 years on January 9, 2019 at the grand finale of his ‘Praja Sankalpa Yatra’, at least five months before he had ascended to power. Maybe, his cue for this ambition is surely the positioning of Naveen Patnaik firmly in the saddle.

Neither Naveen nor Jagan let the ambition to play a pivotal role, or for that matter any role at all, in national politics. Their interests are to completely lay-centre their politics around their respective States.

At the threshold of 2024 general elections for the Parliament, in which Andhra Pradesh Assembly too would go to polls along with Odisha, both leaders are seriously focused on retaining their positions.

Naveen Patnaik doesn’t have a formidable threat in the main opposition in Odisha now, but Jagan indeed has to battle it out with his main opposition – perhaps a combine of the TDP-Jana Sena-BJP, which is raring to go.

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