Bhubaneswar: 22/7/23:Achieving a new milestone in his political career, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has now broken the enviable record of West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu as the second-longest-serving CM in the country.
76-year-old Naveen, who heads the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), has ruled the state for 23 years four months and 17 days as Chief Minister for five consecutive terms. If he wins a sixth term in the elections due next year, Naveen in August 2024 would go on to break the record of Sikkim’s Pawan Kumar Chamling and become the longest-serving chief minister of any Indian state.
Making a foray into politics after the death of his legendary father Biju Patnaik in 1997, he stormed onto the forefront of Odisha politics. He first won the Lok Sabha by-election from Aska in 1997, a seat that fell vacant following Biju Patnaik’s demise, and then formed the BJD. His party allied with the BJP in 1998. Naveen joined Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government as union cabinet minister in 1998 and continued till 2000.
On March 5, 2000, he became the Chief Minister of Odisha. Since then, has been serving as the Chief Minister for the fifth time in a row. His former West Bengal counterpart late Jyoti Basu served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for 23 years 138 days, in the 34 years of CPM’s governance.
Notably, former Chief Minister of Sikkim Pawan Kumar Chamling is the longest-serving Chief Minister of any Indian state. He became the Chief Minister of Sikkim on December 12, 1994, and continued till May 27, 2019.
Naveen’s elevation as the head of government and end of Congress rule in the state was facilitated by three major incidents in 1999. The murder of missionary Graham Staines, a shocking gang rape case and the mishandling of the super cyclone of 1999 prompted the people to put their faith in Biju Patnaik’s son.
The major reasons for his uninterrupted rule include a slew of populist measures and a robust and well-entrenched party cadre. Though Naveen’s increasing reliance on bureaucratic machinery has come in for criticism, it seemed to have ensured the successful implementation of development programmes.
Having maintained a clean image over the last 25 years, Naveen has managed to save himself from direct attack despite serious allegations of corruption against his government over a series of scandals including the chit fund and mining scams.