Who Will Be Naveen’s Successor In BJP’s ‘Naveen’ Odisha?

    The high-voltage election season delivered a brutal shock to Naveen Patnaik who tendered his resignation as Odisha’s CM to Governor Raghubar Das on June 5. Odisha hosted both assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously. The election results not only ended BJD’s dominance in the assembly, but also brought about an end to Naveen Patnaik’s 24-year rule. Even more shocking for Patnaik was his first defeat in his political career as he lost the Kantabanji seat to BJP’s Laxman Bag.    

    The BJP created history by winning 78 out of the 147 assembly seats this time. The BJD, which had been in power in Odisha since 2000, was reduced to just 51 seats, while Congress won 14.

    Now that the BJP is in charge of Odisha for the first time, all eyes are on the saffron party as candidates vie for the CM’s chair. According to an ABP news report, the BJP is considering several names for the CM’s post. Among them are former Comptroller and Auditor General Girish Chandra Murmu, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and former Union minister Jual Oram.

    Girish Chandra Murmu

    Girish Chandra Murmu from Betnoti in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha worked with Narendra Modi as the principal secretary of Gujarat during Modi’s tenure as the Chief Minister and is considered among his close confidantes. In May last year, Girish Chandra Murmu was re-elected as the external auditor of the World Health Organization till 2027. When the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir got the status of a Union Territory, the retired 1985 batch IAS officer from the Gujarat cadre, became its first Lieutenant Governor. His name for the CM’s post was proposed even before the BJP’s victory. However, so far BJP insiders have remained mum on the proposal’s acceptance. 

    Suresh Pujari

    At the same time, another name in the race for the Chief Minister of Odisha is Suresh Pujari. Suresh Pujari is the MLA of Brajraj Nagar and is considered close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is won the Bargarh Lok Sabha seat in 2019. Suresh Pujari is a former national secretary of the BJP. His move to the assembly is a strong indication of the BJP’s intent to keep him in a plum position in the Odisha Cabinet.

    Dharmendra Pradhan

    Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, is among the dynasts of BJP who contested the elections this time. He won the Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat in Odisha this year, but is expected to move into state politics and could be given the CM’s chair.

    Son of former Union minister Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra is a central figure in the Modi Cabinet. The massive success of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana LPG connection scheme is often attributed to his 10-year tenure as the Petroleum minister. He led the “Odia asmita [Odia identity]” campaign of the BJP that led to the party’s triumph in Odisha.

    Manmohan Samal

    The fourth name in the race for the post of the Chief Minister of Odisha is Manmohan Samal. Manmohan Samal is the state president of the BJP in Odisha. Samal lost the Chandbali assembly seat but could be picked by Modi to head the state government for leading the state BJP to victory in both Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Odisha. 

    Laxman Bag, The ‘Giant Slayer’

    The fifth name that has emerged in the race for the CM post is that of Laxman Bagh, who “slayed” the giant of Odisha politics Naveen Patnaik by about 16,000 votes in Kantabanji. He has become an MLA for the first time but the party agrees that it was not easy to defeat Naveen Patnaik. This feat alone has propelled him to the list of probable CM candidates.

    Jual Oram

    Jual Oram is another name favourite for the CM’s post. He defeated BJD leader and Indian hockey wizard Dilip Tirkey on the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat. Oram was the lone BJP representative of the BJP in Lok Sabha in 2014. The 2024 victory is his sixth Lok Sabha win. Oram was the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government, a position he was allotted again in 2014 under PM Modi.

    Apart from them BJP heavyweights Sambit Patra and Baijayant Panda are also being seen as contenders for the CM’s post.

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