Naveen Patnaik Brings BJD Back To Power In Odisha For Fifth Consecutive Term

Naveen Patnaik has once again took the lead and brought back Biju Janata Dal to power in Odisha for the fifth consecutive term, defying anti-incumbency and keeping up the “Modi wave”.

Odisha, which is never known to vote on caste and religious lines, chose to repose its faith in Patnaik after having him at the helm for 20 years. BJD has won in eight seats and was leading in 1o5 of the 146 seats (polls in Patkura were postponed); its LS numbers may shrink from 20 out of 21 (in 2014) to 12 now where it was leading at the time of going to press. BJP was ahead in eight LS seats. At around 11pm the Congress in one of its worst performances ever was leading one one seat by a few hundred votes.

The 72-year old leader of the regional party had wisely refused to bite the bait unlike some of his peers and restricted himself to affairs of the state. The results also prove wrong the speculation that the average voter was mature enough to split their votes for the assembly and LS between the two parties, or more specifically, between Patnaik and Narendra Modi.

The BJD’s campaign relied almost exclusively on the popularity of Patnaik’s image. Patnaik, who has launched a host of development schemes, including his prepoll subsidy for farmers, has managed to rebut any challenges mounted by the BJP.

Advised to introspect after the saffron party’s surprise gain in the February 2017 rural polls, Patnaik began preparing the ground for the 2019 campaign by enhancing financial support to women, the elderly and the poor through schemes and through direct grassroots engagement programmes like Peetha, Biju Yuva Vahini and Kalia.

With a few exceptions, most constituencies saw a close fight with the BJP close at BJD’s heels. The BJD, which won the 2014 polls with margins of a few lakh of votes, saw far fewer such thumping victories. This will weigh on the party’s mind as it prepares for the next urban polls. Crossing the psychological mark of 100 in the assembly will also give the party some respite from any external pressures.

Patnaik’s decision to nominate women in a third of the Lok Sabha seats seems to have paid off, with six of them winning. Particularly blazing was Pramila Bisoi (70), a class-two dropout, representing the 70-lakh odd members of women self-help groups that the BJD has nurtured.

BJP’s only MP from Odisha, Jual Oram, won a massive victory in Sundargarh. The party not only did well in its traditional stronghold of western Odisha, it even won Bargarh under which falls Patnaik’s second assembly constituency. It also made serious inroads into coastal Odisha with leads in Puri, Bhubaneshwar and Balasore at the time of going to press.

The saffron party which had forecast a surprise Tripura-like sweep in Odisha has taken the place of the Congress as the main opposition party in the state but remains far short of its ambitious “Mission 120”, at 22 assembly seats (that it was leading in at the time of going to press), up from ten last time. The Congress’ slide down to nine seats marks a turning point in Odisha’s politics which, until recently, has only been about the Congress and anti-Congress party like the Swatantra Party, the Janata Dal and the Biju Janata Dal.

The 2019 campaign had been one of the most bitter ones fought by the four-time CM, with the BJP accusing him of being insecure and inefficient, and of personal corruption. Its relations are bound to change this term.

Lok Sabha Polls: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik To Contest From Two Seats In The State

Odisha CM and Biju Janta Dal (BJD) President Naveen Patnaik will contest from two seats in Lok Sabha Assembly Polls, one being Bijepur and the other his home turf Hinjili.

Patnaik on Monday announced the first list of BJD candidates for nine of the 21 Lok Sabha and 54 of the 147 assembly seats in the state.

The chief minister said he will contest the state polls from Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in west Odisha’s Bargarh district.

Simultaneous polling will be held in Odisha for the 21 Lok Sabha seats and the 147 assembly constituencies in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

Elections in Hinjili and Bijepur will be held in the second phase of polling on April 18.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief’s announcement came a day after he had hinted at contesting the upcoming assembly election also from a constituency in west Odisha.

“Leaders as well as farmers, women and students from western Odisha have requested that I stand from an assembly constituency in western Odisha .. I am considering the proposal very seriously,” Patnaik had said on Sunday.

Patnaik’s move assumes significance in the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 

(BJP) impressive performance in western Odisha in the 2017 panchayat elections.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s back-to-back visits to the region in a bid to bolster his party’s poll prospects has further mounted pressure on the ruling BJD.

Patnaik represents the Hinjili assembly seat in south Odisha and has been winning successive assembly elections since 2000.

While four Lok Sabha and 28 assembly segments are going to polls on April 11, voting will be held for five parliamentary and 35 assembly seats in the second phase on April 18.