Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, India’s longest-serving current CM, on Thursday, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss various demands of the state, including the establishment of an international airport in Puri.
The meeting came a day after Patnaik held discussions with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, fueling speculations about a possible formation of a third front. However, Patnaik categorically denied any such possibility, reaffirming his party’s commitment to maintaining its independent stance.
With an uninterrupted tenure of 23 years as Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has demonstrated an exceptional ability to carve out a distinct political identity for himself and his party, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Patnaik’s astute leadership has allowed him to remain unaffected by the tide of national alliances and regional coalitions. While other regional parties have frequently aligned with either the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Indian National Congress (INC), Patnaik has steered clear of such entanglements, positioning the BJD as an independent force in Odisha politics.
Naveen Patnaik’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his subsequent statement reflect his mastery of political independence. As Odisha’s longest-serving Chief Minister, Patnaik has honed his ability to navigate the complex political landscape by charting his own course.
During his tenure, Patnaik has cultivated an image of being his own front—neither a friend nor an enemy of any particular political faction. This strategy has enabled him to maintain a delicate balance, ensuring that his government’s focus remains solely on the development and welfare of Odisha. By shunning pre-election alliances, Patnaik has asserted his party’s autonomy and the principle of going it alone in both assembly and parliamentary elections.
Odisha’s developmental demands
In his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naveen Patnaik emphasized the pressing need for an international airport in Puri, called the Shree Jagannath International Airport.
Patnaik highlighted the increasing traffic at Bhubaneswar airport and stressed the importance of expanding the state’s aviation infrastructure. The proposed airport in Puri could serve as a gateway for tourists visiting the famous Jagannath Temple and help boost the region’s economy.