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May 1, 2000
Naveen's brother may enter state politics
M I Khan in Bhubaneswar
Orissa Chief minister Naveen Patnaik 's elder brother Prem Patnaik, a industrialist based in Gurgaon who lives in Delhi, may be the Biju Janata Dal candidate for the Aska Lok Sabha seat by-election in southern Orissa this month.
Sources in the BJD camp close to Chief Minister Patnaik said that "elder Patnaik", as Prem Patnaik is known in the BJD circles because he is the eldest son of Biju Patnaik, may be made BJD candidate for byelections.
The byelections was necessitated because BJD president Naveen Patnaik decided to contest the assembly elections in February 2000. Naveen Patnaik represented Aska Lok Sabha seat thrice.
Prem Patnaik was very reluctant to enter into politics after the death of Biju Patnaik three years ago. He was the main brain behind the entry of his younger brother Naveen Patnaik into state politics.
In state political circles, it was believed that Prem Patnaik advised Naveen Patnaik on all matters since Prem enjoys a good rapport with the BJP central leadership. He is apparently behind the BJD 's decision to ally with the BJP for the 1998 Lok Sabha elections.
The Orissa Janata Dal too had reportedly asked Prem to join politics after Biju Patnaik's death but had been refused. He then motivated his younger brother Naveen Patnaik to contest the Aska Lok Sabha byelections in 1997.
In the 1996 Lok Sabha elections Biju Patnaik had contested as the Janata Dal candidate from Aska Lok Sabha seat and won.
"Three years ago, Prem Patnaik put pressure on Naveen Patnaik to enter politics; now it is Naveen's turn to put pressure on Prem Patnaik to enter politics," said a senior BJD leader and state cabinet minister.
Though the BJD has yet to formally make a decision, Prem Patnaik's candidature appears to be a fait accompli.
Besides Prem Patnaik, names of two possible candidates are doing the round --- senior BJD leader and Finance Minister in Naveen Patnaik's cabinet Ramkrushna Patnaik and senior BJD leader V Sugayani Kumari Deo. But they aren't fancied to have much of a chance.
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