Bhubaneswar, Sept. 20: The Biju Janata Dal today won 41 of the 65 urban local bodies whose election results were announced, scripting a morale-boosting performance ahead of next summer’s Assembly polls.
The Congress won 10 and faces a likely bout of infighting over the poor showing while the BJP, which banked heavily on the Narendra Modi factor, has been routed, drawing a blank so far. Several urban local bodies are, however, hung.
In the previous urban polls in 2008, the BJD had won 46 of the 91 local bodies while the BJP, its then ally, had bagged 20. The Congress score was 15.
Only 66 urban local bodies went to the polls yesterday while elections in 25 were postponed following a lawyers’ agitation in western Odisha for a permanent high court bench. Results for one municipality, where re-polling was held in two booths today, are expected tomorrow.
The BJD had staked its prestige on these elections, seeking votes on the performance plank.
“I would like to thank the voters for our great victory. I also thank my party workers,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik said. In Naveen’s home district of Ganjam, his party has won 15 of the 18 urban local bodies.
State election commissioner Ajit Tripathy said: “The BJD has a clear majority in 41 urban bodies, the Congress in 10 and Independents in two others. However, the picture in 12 civic bodies is not clear.”
The BJD is leading in three hung municipalities and might win them with the help of Independents. The Congress leads in four others where, too, Independents are set to play a crucial role.
Odisha Congress president Jaydev Jena is likely to face mounting dissidence after the poor results.
Former state unit chief Niranjan Patnaik said: “The time has come for serious self-introspection. If we don’t make the right moves, we will be left behind in state politics.”
These sentiments were echoed by former state Congress youth wing chief Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, who blamed faulty strategy for the poor showing.
Jena admitted the need for self-introspection but spoke of punishing saboteurs.
“We need structural changes at different levels. Steps will be taken against elements who worked against the party,” he said.
The BJP’s sole consolation is that it is leading in one seat, but even there it will be at the mercy of Independents.
Despite its resounding victory, the BJD will be worried at its performance in places like Jagatsinghpur, Basudevpur, Nayagarh, Pipili, Jaleswar and Soro.
In Jagatsinghpur, which boasts two party stalwarts — health minister Damodar Rout and former minister Bishnu Das — the party won just nine of the 21 wards at stake. In Basudevpur, represented by forest minister Bijayshree Routray, the party’s score was seven out of 23.
Nayagarh, the turf of energy minister Arun Sahu, handed the BJD six wards out of 13. In Pipli, home of former minister Pradip Maharathy, the party won just six of 16 wards.