Although its Lok Sabha tally is set to dip, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Thursday managed to withstand the wave in favour of the BJP across the country. The party also retained power in the Odisha Assembly polls, with its supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik set for a historic fifth term.
Till late on Thursday night, the BJD was leading in 12 out of the 21 Lok seats in Odisha — eight less than its 2014 Lok Sabha polls tally. The BJP was ahead in eight seats and the Congress in one. In the Assembly election, the ruling BJD had won 28 seats and was ahead in 84 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, had won five seats and was leading in 18 others.
Patnaik won from both Hinjili and Bijepur Assembly seats that he had contested. Crediting the women voters in the state with the party’s victory, Naveen said, “I want to thank particularly the women of Odisha who came out in large numbers to vote
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people of our state who have showered their blessings time and time again on the BJD. I would also like to thank leaders and workers of the party who worked so hard,” said the BJD chief.
“We will have a constructive relationship with the Central government for the development and welfare of Odisha,” Naveen told ANI. This new position is in complete contrast to his previous stance of “equidistance” from the national parties.
“A fifth term for Naveen Patnaik will be historic in the country,” said former Bhubaneswar MP and BJD veteran Prasanna Pathsani. “All talks of anti-incumbency stand discredited”. In the course of the campaign, the BJP had criticised the BJD on its record in agriculture, corruption and women’s safety and given a call for “Ethara sarkar badaliba darkar (This time government must change)”. “We accept that the BJP at the state level has been unable to make people understand the wrong policies of the BJD government,” said BJP state vice-president Sameer Mohanty.
In his last election rally at Kendrapara, Modi had predicted an imminent defeat for Naveen. “Naveen Babu you are going, it is decided. Your officers cannot save you,” the Prime Minister had said. To this, Patnaik had replied that he will invite the Prime Minister for the BJD government’s swearing-in.
After results, both leaders congratulated each other on Twitter. The Congress, meanwhile, put up a dismal show. Till late on Thursday night, it had won one and was leading in eight Assembly seats. A day before results were to be declared, state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik had said his party will not form the government, but will better its 2014 tally when the party won 16 Assembly seats.
Inroads, and a roadblock
IN Odisha, one of its focus states where it contested on its own, the BJP’s vote share has risen from 21.5% to 38% this time. It has managed to recapture the ground lost to the BJD in Western Odisha. However, the BJP was unable to translate this advantage to the Assembly seats, where the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD won 113 of the 147 seats. The BJP managed to win only 22. While the BJD registered a 12% lead against its nearest rival, the BJP has reaffirmed its position as the growing alternative party in the coastal state.
On Thursday, Niranjan said, “This is a democracy and we accept the verdict of the people. But if BJP forms the government in the Centre again, then it is not good. If Naveen Patnaik forms government in Odisha again, then it is not good.”
Till late on Thursday night, the BJP was leading in eight Parliamentary seats. In Bolangir, BJP’s Sangita Singh Deo was ahead of the BJD’s Kalikesh Singh Deo, while former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi was ahead of her BJD rival and former IPS officer Arup Patnaik. Union Minister Jual Oram was leading by a margin of over 2 lakh votes in Sundergarh.
The BJD was breathing easy in three Lok Sabha seats considered its bastions — Aska, Berhampur and Kendrapara. In Kendrapara, BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP and actor Anubhav Mohanty was leading against former BJD MP Baijayant Panda, who recently joined the BJP, with over 1.4 lakh votes.
The BJD’s Pramila Bisoyi looked set to win in Aska. In Berhampur, the BJD, which had fielded former Union Minister and Congress leader Chandra Sekhar Sahoo, was headed for a win. The BJD was also seen romping home in Kandhamal, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur. In Bargarh, BJP’s Suresh Pujari was ahead of his BJD opponent. The party was also leading in Kalahandi. Overall, the BJP seemed to be performing well in western Odisha.
Puri, a contest between spokespersons of three parties, saw a tight contest between the BJD and the BJP. The BJD’s Pinaki Mishra was leading by nearly 15,000 votes against BJP’s Sambit Patra.