On Tuesday, when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote a reply to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, urging him to restore land allotted to Odisha Bhawan, he made a point clear- BJP still has a lot to do to usurp his popularity.
Interestingly, Pradhan had written a letter to Patnaik on April 24, 2017, seeking his intervention to open a canteen at Odisha Niwas for general public which served Odia cuisine.
No doubt it took Patnaik almost three months to furnish a reply, but the choice of his words indicated he had done his homework properly.
Throwing the ball back to Pradhan’s court, Patnaik clearly put the Union Minister into a fix after he sought the land leased out to the petrol pump to be given back to the State government.
“You may be well aware that we have very limited space allotted to us for our State Bhawans in Delhi including for Odisha Bhawan and Odisha Niwas. In fact, for Odisha Bhawan, we have only half of the physical area as compared to the adjoining State Bhawans since half of the originally allotted land in our favour was leased out to a petrol pump. There seems no justification for the said petrol pump as there are two operating petrol pumps adjoining each other,” Patnaik wrote signing off with a request to restore the land back to the State.
Now, even if the Ministry of Urban Development allots a land elsewhere or restores the land leased out to the petrol pump to the State, Patnaik has managed to score a brownie point.
While BJP has been trying to highlight Patnaik’s negatives, the desperation has only added to the certification of his popularity. Every time a Union Minister or even BJP party president Amit Shah has tried to question BJD, they have indirectly shown their low confidence on winning over the people of the State.
Patnaik, on the other hand, has played his cards well, hardly giving any reactions or statements on any topics besides the issues that directly concern Odisha.
Just when, there was hullabaloo over BJD-BJP link surfacing after Patnaik announced support for NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, he played the safe card again by projecting Gopal Krishna Gandhi, his long-time friend and UPA’s Vice-Presidential candidate as his party’s choice. While Patnaik once again became a neutral face, the opposition parties could say less.
Social media, an area where BJP is clearly a winner, is now being explored by Patnaik as well. He has suddenly become ‘selfie-friendly,’ politely accepting all selfie requests, has opened his accounts in social media platforms and asked his Ministers to follow suit.
Though the version 2.0 of Naveen Patnaik has surfaced due to BJP’s sudden surge in popularity, Patnaik seems to be calculating all his moves to ensure the BJP game-plan boomerangs.
(Views are personal)