BJD scripts massive victory in Odisha panchayat poll, BJP routed
The ruling BJD scripted a massive victory in the Odisha panchayat election whose results came as a major blow to the BJP, the main Opposition party in the state.
The saffron party, which is gearing up for the bigger battle in 2024, had not expected this kind of a debacle that shows a clear downturn in its fortunes compared to the 2017 results. Both the BJP and the Congress have been completely decimated by the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has broken all previous records.
According to the election results announced on Tuesday by the State Election Commission, the ruling BJD won 766 of the 852 zilla parishad seats in the state, an increase of 290 seats compared with the 2017 polls. The BJD will form zilla parishads in all the districts.
The BJP, which had won 297 zilla parishad seats in 2017, could manage only 42 seats this time.
The results have left the saffron leadership in the state red-faced. In 2017, it had formed zilla parishads in eights districts. But this time, the party failed to form a single zilla parishad in any district.
The Congress won 37 zilla parishads seats, the Independents got three and others four seats as per the SEC report.
Out of the total valid 2,10,28,403 votes, the BJD got a 1,10, 89,712, BJP 63,23,746, Congress 28,54,398, Independents 2,81,213 and others 4,79,334 votes.
The number of BJP’s zilla parishads seats had gone up several fold in 2017 compared with the 2012 polls when it had won just 36 seats mainly because of its ability to win the confidence of voters in western and northern Odisha.
The momentum that the party had been able to generate in this region had also helped it in 2019 general elections when it won eight Lok Sabha seats, including all the five in western Odisha and also the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat in northern Odisha.
Similarly, most of its Assembly seats had also come from these areas. The first-time BJP MP from Mayurbhanj Bishweswar Tudu is now a minister in the Narendra Modi government. In 2017, the BJP had formed the zilla parishad in Mayurbhanj by winning 49 out of 56 zilla parishad seats while and BJD could manage to win only five.
Having realised the mistakes it committed in these areas in 2017, the BJD went for course correction and the effort paid handsome dividends.
“A focused attempt was made to regain the lost ground in northern Odisha. The BJD had given the task of strengthening its cadre in Mayurbhanj to its most trusted leader and the leadership provided them with all possible support. This has been reflected in the results,” a senior BJD leader said.
This time, the BJP failed to win even a single seat and the BJD won 53 zilla parishad seats by breaking all its records. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) got the remaining zilla parishad seats.
Similar steps were taken by the BJD in western Odisha to improve its tally. The state government appointed former chief secretary Asit Tripathy as the chairman of Western Odisha Development Council to instil confidence among the people of the region about the development of the area.
“This was a brilliant move that removed a lot of grievances of the people of the region while also galvanising the party cadres in the region,” a political analyst said.
This time, the BJD also succeeded in checking the transfer of Congress votes to the BJP. In 2017, there was a Modi wave. Those who were disgruntled with the Congress and opposed to BJD had shifted their loyalty to the BJP and voted for the party.
However, this time the BJD arrested the trend through successful implementation of various welfare schemes.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik toured districts to distribute Biju Swasthya Kalayan Yojana health cards much ahead of the announcement of the panchayat polls and created a wave in favour of the party.
The BJP is still struggling to produce a leader who can match Naveen’s charisma. Though the BJP think tank has sought to project Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan as an alternative, he has fallen short of expectations.
“Besides, the growing difference between Dharmendra and BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi have impacted the party adversely,” said Samar Pradhan, a political analyst.