Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Unique Politician

The coming Assembly elections in the eastern state of Odisha seems to have a foregone result: the Biju Janta Dal is all set to win another majority in the state and form its third government and second government after it broke its alliance with the BJP.

The BJD's Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, presents a strange politician that breaks the usual molds. With a foreign degree and a particularly British accent, Mr. Patnaik does not speak Odiya very well. In any other state, that would have been an automatic rejection by the electorate. And yet, he seems set to form his third government. Of course, he has his political roots (his father was a former CM of the state) but that can only get you so far and certainly not this far.

In the mostly rural and backward state, Patnaik offers the old-Empire charm, an outsider, a King if you may, who is of a higher quality than the common man and who delivers, not because he is an aam aadmi, but because he is higher than that. Usual politicians make promises and leave them mostly unfulfilled, but the CM is different not just because of his actions but because of who he is. This somewhat feudal outlook is what seems to have made the impossible possible in the state.

However, in the Lok Sabha polls, the state seems to be in a two-way tussle between the BJD and its former ally the BJP, which seems to be the next ruling party. The BJP has been working in the state since 2008, which the BJD has unsuccessfully tried to block. With the RSS taking it upon itself to support Narendra Modi the rooster has come home to roost. To counter the Modi wave, the BJD has been working to stitch a so-called Federal Front with the TMC and JD(U) and this is a huge bet. An interesting battle is clearly on the cards. 

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