Odisha: From clutches of death to poll battle, Pradipta Naik walks the life’s talk

Naik says he had never hoped to return from deathbed and it was the blessings of people of Bhawanipatna and Lord Jagannath that gave him a new lease of life.
Pradipta Naik talks to voters during campaigning
Pradipta Naik talks to voters during campaigning Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: An excruciating two-and-a-half year long battle with Covid-19 has failed to weaken the resolve of Pradipta Kumar Naik, former leader of Oppostion and BJP’s Bhawanipatna MLA who is seeking mandate for the fifth time.

Exactly three years back, the seasoned politician had encountered the biggest battle of his life as he tested positive for Covid on April 21, 2021. The pandemic that wreaked havoc globally posed a significant threat to Naik’s health, leaving him bed-ridden for over two years. It was a life and death situation for him.

Naik, now 58, was first admitted to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar where he received treatment for around six months before being shifted to Medanta, Gurugram as his condition deteriorated. He was under treatment for nearly two years and was detected with pulmonary fibrosis, a major long-term complication post-Covid-19.

The impact of long Covid could have deterred him from pursuing politics which is demanding but Naik is back on the arduous terrain of politics tapping into his immense physical and mental reserves. His resolve and popularity made the party renominate him, much to the dismay of several aspirants.

Naik says he had never hoped to return from deathbed and it was the blessings of people of Bhawanipatna and Lord Jagannath that gave him a new lease of life. “The world saw how even the rich in developed countries fell to the virus. I am fortunate, I survived. There must be something that God wants me to deliver. This is why I am in the fray again to serve my people,” he said.

Having emerged victorious in his battle against Covid, Naik has set his sight on the political battleground. Armed with renewed vigour, he has doubled down on his campaign despite his health not allowing him long hours in the gruelling heatwave. Naik takes 13 medicines daily and doctors have advised him to follow certain dietary restrictions. Though there is no restriction on his movement, he prefers to minimise campaigning when he has to walk in rallies. He has so far conducted mandal-level meetings and covered almost all major regions of his constituency. He hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Union Home Minister Amit Shah will come to campaign for him.

“The disease taught me a great lesson. Accordingly, we have devised strategies for campaigning with a concentrated focus on weak areas. My constituency has 45 panchayats in both Bhawanipatna and Kesinga blocks besides 32 wards in Bhawanipatna municipality and Kesinga NAC. We are mostly campaigning during mornings, evening till late night. Along with political events, I have to look after my overall health,” he said.

Battling the scorching heat, the lawyer-turned politician remains unshaken as he traverses through the constituency, tirelessly engaging with voters and addressing their concerns. His campaign strategy embodies adaptability as he organises smaller, more intimate gatherings to connect with constituents.

Naik won his first election in 1995. Since then he has never looked back. As he navigates the political battleground with unwavering determination, Naik epitomises resilience, setting example for other political leaders. Bhawanipatna will go to polls on May 13.

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