Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 7:
All indicators point to the possibility of Naveen Patnaik becoming the Chief Minister of Odisha for the fourth straight term, after the results of the elections are announced on May 16.
But with some Opposition heavyweights all set to re-enter the Assembly after a long hiatus, it is not going to be a bed of roses in the next Assembly for the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo, who has long got used to having his way in the House with his steamrolling majority.
Among those who are set to enter the Assembly and make life miserable for Naveen are his perennial bugbears Narasingha Mishra (Cogress), Dilip Ray (BJP), Soumya Ranjan Patnaik (AOP) and – with a bit of luck – Bijay Mohapatra (BJP), the one man who has been unwavering in his opposition to the BJD boss.
While the first three are all set to win from their respective constituencies of Bolangir, Rourkela and Khandapada, Mohapatra is the front-runner in the Mahakalpada constituency, according to the report prepared by the state intelligence wing.
PCC president Jayadev Jena, for all the criticism by party leaders, also has an outside chance of winning in the Anandpur seat.
In the outgoing Assembly, Congress MLA from Satyabadi Prasad Harichandan was a virtual one-man army repeatedly putting the BJD government on the mat with meticulous homework and sharp interventions. Once he is joined by the likes of Mishra, Ray, Patnaik and Mohapatra, the Opposition could be a handful for a Chief Minister, who would be constrained by a wafer-thin majority.
The days of lording it over the party, government and the Assembly are clearly over for the ‘monarch’ – at least that is what the intelligence report seems to be suggesting.
What would make things even more difficult for Naveen is the fact that several party bigwigs are all set to bite the dust, according to the intelligence report. Among them are Forest and Environment minister Bijayshree Routray in Basudevpur, Food and Supplies minister Pratap Keshari Deb in Aul, former ministers Bishnu Das in Jagatsinghpur, Amar Satpathy in Badchana, Debashish Nayak in Bari, Sarada Nayak in Rourkela and former Speaker Kishore Mohanty in Jharsuguda.
More ominously, Finance minister Prasanna Acharya in Bijepur, Maheswar Mohanty in Puri, Energy minister Arun Sahu in Nayagarh, deputy chief whip Sanjay Dasburma in Brahmagiri, Debashish Samantray in Barabati Cuttack and Ashok Panda in Ekamra-Bhubaneswar are anything but sure to win from their respective constituencies.
The intelligence report says, BJD is all set to lose in Sukinda, the seat held by former Finance minister and senior party leader Prafulla Ghadai for long, from where his son Pritiranjan Ghadai was fielded this time.
Chandrasarathi Behera, son of former minister Kalindi Behera is fighting a tough battle in Cuttack Sadar, represented by his father in the outgoing Assembly, where the BJP is the front runner.
The two cases are telling examples of the adage “Cutting your nose to spite your face.”
In Jeypore, School and Mass Education minister Rabi Nanda is locked in a neck and neck fight with Congress’ Taraparasad Bahinipati while even the veteran V Sugyan Kumari Deo is having a tough time in Kabisuryanagar.
Ace comedian Pappu Pom Pom, who was plucked out of thin air to be the BJD candidate in Champua and sitting MLA Braja Kishore Pradhan, who defected to the BJD camp barely days before the elections to be fielded in Talcher, are also set to lose, if the intelligence report is anything to go by.
Clearly, the BJD supremo’s whimsical ticket distribution has boomeranged.