He was born October 16, 1946, at Cuttack. His father Biju Patnaik was a politician and a Janata Dal Leader. Naveen Patnaik was educated at Welham Boys' School and The Doon School, Dehradun. He has a BA from St Stephens's College, Delhi University.
Naveen Patnaik has authored three books; A Second Paradise, A Desert Kingdom, and the Garden of Life. He is also the founder member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). His sister Gita Mehta is an author and is married to Sonny Mehta Editor of Alfred A. Knopf New York. Naveen Patnaik is a bachelor.
His father Biju Patnaik died in 1996 and Naveen Patnaik joined politics. He was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha in a bye-election from the Aska constituency in 1996 as a Janata Dal candidate. While in Lok Sabha, he was a member of the Consultative Committee of Ministry of Steel & Mines, and of the Standing Committee on Commerce.
In 1997, Janata Dal split and Naveen Patnaik formed the Biju Janata Dal party. The party won the Assembly elections in alliance with BJP in Odisha in 2000. Naveen Patnaik, who was serving as Union Minister of Mines in the BJP led NDA government resigned from the Union Cabinet and was sworn in as Chief Minister of Odisha.
He was again sworn in as Chief Minister in 2004, after winning the state assembly elections in alliance with BJP. However, communal violence in 2007 in Kandhamal district soured his relationship with BJP.
In 2009, BJD walked out of the NDA alliance and tied up with the left parties before the State Assembly elections. BJD won in both the Lok Sabha as well as Vidhan Sabha elections. BJD won 14 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats and 103 out of 147 Vidhan Sabha seats.
On May 21, 2009, Naveen Patnaik was sworn in as Chief Minister of Odisha for a third consecutive term.