Naveen checkmates Opposition with Mahanadi and Polavaram
At least four issues were expected to put the ruling Biju Janata Dal and its leader Naveen Patnaik on back foot – Bhasha Andolan, Gumudumaha (Kandhamal Killings), Nagada (Death of Children of Malnutrition) and Dana Majhi (Kalahandi). But, Naveen Patnaik left no stones unturned to burst the bubbles and turn the disadvantages into advantages within a month. The Opposition got several issues, but failed to capitalize on any of them.
Naveen got two issues to floor his rivals and critics – Mahanadi and Polavaram. Mahanadi issue has snowballed into a big battle between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. It’s true that the Odisha Government slept on this issue for long and took no definite steps on time to protect the state’s interests. But, eventually, they managed to gain political mileage by twisting the matter and invoking sympathy, as Mahanadi remains the lifeline of Odisha.
On Polavaram, it was Congress-led UPA Government, which declared it as a national project to pacify Andhra Pradesh ahead of 2014 polls. Although Congress faced rout in AP, the project stayed despite strong objections from Odisha and Chhattisgarh. And, the BJP-led NDA had no other option but to fund the entire project, triggering a further conflict and giving a burning issue to the BJD. Riding high on these issues, Naveen is all set to have the last laugh as a leader although Odisha is going to lose on both counts.