The Telegraph
Saturday , February 8 , 2014
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Twin-victory boost to Naveen in poll year

Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Feb. 7: Striking the right chord before the general elections, barely two months away, the ruling BJD today won a thumping majority in the prestigious Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the Baripada Municipality.

In what was being seen as the last trial of strength for the political parties gearing up for the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the BJD retained control over the CMC, winning 36 of its 59 wards. The victory in Baripada was even more spectacular with the party grabbing 21 of the 28 wards in the north Odisha town.

The two major Opposition parties were left by the wayside with the Congress failing to open its account in Baripada, though it had the consolation of winning in nine wards in Cuttack. The BJP got four wards in Cuttack and one in Baripada. The Odisha Jan Morcha, which is led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s friend-turned-rival, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra drew a blank in Cuttack.

An outstanding feature of the outcome in Cuttack was the victory of a large number of women candidates with as many as 32 of them being declared winners. The CMC had 30 wards reserved for women.

While the results of the urban body polls in Cuttack and Baripada triggered celebrations in the ruling party, the mood was sombre in the Congress and the BJP as the results come ahead of the visits of their respective national leaders. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address a series of public meetings in the state on February 9 and 10. That will be followed by BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Bhubaneswar on February 11.

The spectacular showing of the BJD today is in tune with its performance in the urban polls in western, southern and coastal Odisha held between September last and January this year. The party had claimed 65 of the 87 civic bodies that went to polls in these areas during this period.

Coming ahead of the general elections, the victory comes as a big morale booster for the BJD. With today’s win the ruling party will find it easy to firm up its strategy for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls.

“The victory is the manifestation of the peoples’ faith in chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his government,” said BJD leader and Choudwar Cuttack MLA Pravat Biswal.

State BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari described the results as disappointing and said that time had come for the party to do some serious introspection.

“There are loopholes in the organisation as well. We must introspect,” he said.