The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Naveen’s knock-out punch

- Opposition decimated in Bhubaneswar poll

Bhubaneswar, Jan 9: The BJD juggernaut rolls on. After sweeping the urban polls in western and coastal Odisha, the ruling party today registered a thumping victory here bagging 49 of the 67 wards in the municipal corporation polls.

The miserable run of the Congress and the BJP continued as neither managed to reach double figures.

The Congress, in fact, was worse off managing to win just two wards against BJP’s four. As many as 12 Independents emerged victorious, a warning signal for the BJD as most of them happened to be its rebel candidates.

The announcement of results, nonetheless, triggered celebrations in the BJD with chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who gleefully accepted several bouquets of his favourite white lily from party leaders. “I thank the people for voting generously for the Biju Janata Dal. We will continue to work hard for them,” said Naveen.

The victory, coming ahead of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation polls slated for February 6 and the general elections, which happen to be only months away, comes as a big morale booster for the BJD.

The chief minister, who will be seeking a record fourth consecutive term in office around April, will now find it easy to firm up his strategy for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.

With today’s win, the ruling party bettered its own record in Bhubaneswar where it had bagged 41 wards in 2008 urban polls against 8 of the BJP and four of the Congress.

All set to head the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation for the third time in a row, the BJD’s performance in the urban polls held recently has shattered the Opposition’s hopes of reversing the trend.

Shocked at his party’s humiliating defeat, state Congress chief Jaydev Jena said: “I can’t accept this. The ruling party used all kinds of unfair means to win the polls. This, however, is not going to affect our performance in the Assembly elections.”

Former Pradesh Congress Committee president, Niranjan Patnaik was, however, more candid in his reaction.

“If we don’t take corrective steps now, it will be too late,” said Patnaik.

The BJP, too, was crestfallen although the party fared better than the Congress in Bhubaneswar. With the much-touted Modi magic failing to come to its aid, the party leaders sought to put the blame on the ruling party’s alleged money and muscle power.

“We are not happy with the results. The ruling party had spent a lot of money which we could not have matched,” said state BJP president, KV Singhdeo.

However at the end of the day, BJD’s celebrations were tinged with a bit of worry about the rebel factor that cost the party dear in at least 12 wards. Most of the rebels won from the constituencies represented by BJD MLAs Ashok Panda and Bhagirathi Badjena.