Outgoing Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.
Outgoing Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.Photo | PTI

Despite BJD’s loss, Naveen’s popularity remains unscathed in Odisha

Similarly, a student of Rama Devi Women’s University Ananya Routray said Naveen was a more a statesman than a political leader.

BHUBANESWAR: Despite BJD’s disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, outgoing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s remains as popular as ever among the masses.

The outpouring of sympathy from people across all age groups, women in particular, for the state’s longest serving and most popular chief minister has not stopped even after his party faced a debacle in the recently concluded elections. At the ground, while some feel the 77-year-old leader was a ‘statesman’ who never resorted to any ugly personal attacks or hate speeches, a rarity in the current political landscape, many recall his contribution in taking the state - which was otherwise infamous for poverty and backwardness - to the world stage. In fact, more than BJD’s defeat, Naveen losing the chief minister post has struck an emotional chord with women and youth voters.

“I belong to the generation that grew up seeing Naveen Patnaik as the chief minister. It is hard to believe that someone else will be at the helm of the state now but Naveenji’s legacy and leadership are immortal,” said Preetinanda Samal, a 42-year-old school teacher of Bhubaneswar.

Similarly, a student of Rama Devi Women’s University Ananya Routray said Naveen was a more a statesman than a political leader . “I have never seen him use a hate word against any Opposition leader. The new chief minister has a mammoth task of matching up to the high benchmarks set by Naveen,” she said.

Explaining the sympathy wave for the ‘caretaker chief minister’, political analyst and faculty member of Utkal University Smita Nayak said the popularity of Naveen Patnaik is such that his defeat is of a greater concern to people than his party’s loss in the elections. “It may be the anti-Pandian factor that resulted in BJD’s loss. But there is hardly anyone who spoke against Naveen, not even the BJP,” she added.

Social media, similarly, is replete with support for Patnaik. In fact, more than congratulatory messages for BJP on breaking the 24-year-rule of BJD in Odisha, the hashtag Naveen Patnaik has been trending ever since the election results were announced, both on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).

A search of the hashtag #naveenpatnaik throws up close to 61,000 posts and reels dedicated to the leader on Instagram, a majority of them uploaded ever since the election results were announced.

“Be it popular pages or influencers with lakhs of followers, there is a spike in social media posts on Naveen Patnaik now. Everyone has been creating and tweeting reels on his rule and contribution towards Odisha’s development and thanking him for everything he did for the state. In fact, scrolling through social media platforms will lead to at least 5 to 10 top posts on him now,” said Prashant Rout, a content creator.

The New Indian Express