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Will Naveen Patnaik be lucky to be India’s longest serving CM or lose the game?

Bhubaneswar: Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik is just 75 days away from becoming the longest serving chief minister of Odisha, surpassing the record of Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim.

Naveen has already served as the CM of Odisha for the fifth consecutive term and is eyeing the sixth term this time. The Odisha Legislative Assembly polls results to be announced on Tuesday will decide if the 78-year-old will be lucky to be sworn-in as the CM for the sixth term or he will sit in the opposition bench.

Naveeen has already spent 24 years, 90 days in the Chief Minister’s Office, Odisha.

Pawan Kumar Chamling, who served as Sikkim CM from December 12, 1994 to May 26, 2019, was the office for 24 years and 165 days.

The Odisha CM who has been in power since 2000 and won the past five elections very convincingly found himself a tough challenger this time – Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though he had announced a team of 40 star campaigners to match the PM’s high profile entourage of campaigners and strategists, virtually had to rely on his own political astuteness and ability as well as the wisdom of his close aide V Karthikeyan Pandian to defend his position. Both of them held massive campaigning across the 147 assembly seats and 21 parliamentary constituencies.

In 2019, the BJD had won 12 Lok Sabha and 113 assembly seats. Subsequently, it won two more assembly seats in Bijepur and Patkura assembly by-polls, taking the total assembly seats tally to 115.

The PM, who held eight public meetings and two roadshows during his four campaign trips to the state, attacked Naveen saying he had put Odia Asmita (pride) in danger and failed to bring prosperity to the state despite Odisha having the country’s highest reserves of mineral resources. He also made Naveen’s frail health an election issue and told the people that Odisha now needed a healthy and visionary leader.

The BJP also made the disappearance of Lord Jagannath’s Ratna Bhadar keys a major poll issue. Besides, it also literally unnerved the ruling regional party on the issues of unemployment and distress migration of poor people to other states due to lack of jobs at their home districts.

Pollsters have predicted 62-80 seats for both the BJD and BJP and maintained that the latter has a little edge over the former.

Both the parties, however, claimed that they would form their government on their own strengths.

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