Naveen Patnaik-led BJD looking at fifth term in Odisha Assembly as BJP makes impressive gains

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is all set to come back to power for a record fifth term as his BJD raced past the majority mark leading in 94 of the 147 assembly seats with the electorate opting for tactical voting that saw the BJP making major gains in the battle for the Lok Sabha.

As per trends on the Election Commission’s website, Naveen Patnaik was leading from both the Hinjili and Bijepur assembly constituencies against his nearest BJP candidates by good margins after three rounds of counting. He is on the path to joining the ranks of Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling and West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu as five-time CM.

The Biju Janata Dal needs 74 seats to form the government. The BJP seems set to be the main opposition party in the Odisha assembly with leads in 28 seats while Congress slumped to leads in 12.

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In the last assembly election in 2014, the BJD had won 117 seats followed by Congress at 16. The Bharatiya Janata Party had won ten seats.

“We had said that we will repeat, if not better, the performance of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Now, the trends indicate that we are approaching somewhere near there at least in the assembly,” the BJD’s spokesperson Amar Patnaik said.

“The most significant thing is that like in 2014, people of Odisha have reposed faith in Naveen Patnaik than in Narendra Modi-led BJP. We have bucked the national trend,” he said.

If he forms the government, the 72-year-old Naveen Patnaik would have bucked the nationwide Modi wave for the second time even as the BJP launched a blitzkrieg in Odisha calling for a double engine government, or a BJP government both in the state and Centre.

As predicted by several political analysts and exit polls, tactical voting seems to have arrived in Odisha as voters chose BJD candidates in the assembly election and BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha polls.

In 2014, the BJP won just one seat of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and the rest went to the BJD. Over the last couple of years, both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had marked Odisha out as the region for their party’s growth.

Political analysts said the BJD’s robust organisation network coupled with several welfare schemes like KALIA (Krushak Assistant for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme in which more than 57,000 farmers would get Rs 10,000 a year for purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers and pesticides seems to have helped the party in overcoming the severe anti-incumbency sentiments on the ground.

Patnaik seems to have also been helped by more than 600,000 self-help groups each of whom received an assistance of Rs 15,000 and a smartphone before the polls. The SHG members, around 70 lakh, have stood rock-solid in support of Patnaik since 2014 polls.

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In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP seems to be doing well as it was leading in six constituencies as against 15 of the BJD. But it seems to be a see-saw battle in the Lok Sabha polls as the leading margin of several BJD candidates in several seats was slim.

In the Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency, Baijayant Panda of the BJP was trailing by about 1,300 votes against the BJD’s Anubhav Mohanty. The BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra was trailing by 387 votes against the BJD’s Pinaki Mishra, a Supreme Court lawyer, in Puri.

Union tribal affairs minister and senior BJP leader Jual Oram was leading in Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat by over 5,200 votes against George Tirkey of the Congress. Former IAS officer and BJP candidate from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat Aparajita Sarangi was leading by over 8,600 votes against former Mumbai Police commissioner Arup Patnaik of the BJD.

First Published:
May 23, 2019 12:53 IST

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