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Who after Naveen? Will history repeat itself in Odisha?

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Bhubaneswar: While Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik has entered record books for being the longest serving chief minister of Odisha, people in the state have been curious to know about his political heir.

Speculations were agog that Naveen’s nephew Arun will foray into politics at some point in time to take the baton from his uncle. Speculation was also rife that Naveen’s New York-based sister Geeta Mehta will be joining the electoral battle.

Legendary leader and former Chief Minister Bijayananda Patnaik aka Biju Patnaik never wanted his family members (wife and three children) to enter politics for which he had kept them away from political glare.

Till Biju Patnaik breathed his last at New Delhi following cardio-respiratory failure in 1997, the two-time chief minister was averse to this idea of naming his political successor.

Naveen, termed as a reluctant politician, made his maiden entry into politics as Member of Parliament from Aska seat which had fallen vacant following his father’s demise. He had contested the by-election on a Janata Dal ticket.

However eight months after Biju’s demise, his loyalists including Dilip Ray, Bijoy Mohapatra and Ram Krushna Patnaik, founded Biju Janata Dal laying the perfect launchpad for Naveen to enter into Odisha politics.

He was again elected to Lok Sabha in 1998 and 1999 on BJD ticket. In 2000, he contested from Hinjili as an MLA and since then he is at the helm as chief minister. Now, he is set to begin his fifth consecutive term beginning tomorrow.

Will history repeat itself in the state?

As stage is set for Naveen’s fifth innings, talks are doing rounds that the BJD chief will vacate the Hinjili seat for his nephew Arun Patnaik. However, the Patnaik Sr told media that “no one from my family will enter politics.”

With this, Naveen has put spanner on the rumour mills for the time being. But, who knows… History might repeat itself.