Reduced to just six MLAs and no MPs after the 2009 assembly and Lok Sabha elections, no one was willing to wager a bet on it. The party’s performance in 2012 panchayat polls and last year’s civic polls too was lacklustre.
With the Congress caught in rampant infighting Biju Janata Dal (BJD) looked set to romp home comfortably for the fourth consecutive time. BJD leaders had predicted victory in 17 of the 21 seats.
However, things quickly changed for the BJP with Narendra Modi’s February rally in Bhubaneswar. He launched a scathing attack on Naveen Patnaik for failing to give jobs to local youths. This was the turning point. Every rally Modi subsequently addressed was packed.
By early April, the tide had changed in favour of BJP. The indicative seat would be Kalahandi where Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das is the sitting MP. So if BJP’s Pradip Nayak is leading there after first couple of rounds, it would be safe to estimate that BJP would win Bolangir, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Bargarh too.
The same is true in coastal and northern Orissa where early BJP leads in Balasore could point to wins in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal.