Naveen Patnaik’s BJD is on its way to forming the government in Odisha, with the party leading in 110 Assembly constituencies in a house of 147 Assembly seats, followed by the BJP leading in 25 and the Congress in 10 seats. Patnaik’s victory seems to have turned the tables on naysayers who had predicted the BJP of eating into a major share of BJD votes in Odisha.
This is the second consecutive time that Patnaik had survived the Modi wave. The situation was shaky for the BJD which already was burdened with anti-incumbency after four terms, and was pitted against a resurgent BJP, which buoyed by its performance in the 2017 panchayat polls, had aggressively campaigned against BJD. A series of defection of prominent leaders from the BJD camp to the BJP – most of it in the run up to the polls – had been another cause of concern for the party. In 2014, the BJD had won 117 of the 147 Assembly seats against 10 by the BJP and 16 by the Congress.
The BJD, which hadn’t ceded more than one Lok Sabha seat to the BJP in the past two terms, may end up losing more than a fourth of its Lok Sabha seats to the national party. In 2014, the BJD won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, leaving the BJP with just one seat. In 2009, the BJP had been able to win only six Assembly seats and zero Lok Sabha seats after the BJD broke off its alliance with the saffron party. Also the BJP’s Assembly seat tally in 2019 could be more than that in 2014.
The BJP in its attempt to woo the Odia voter had fielded candidates such as its national spokesperson Sambit Patra (Puri), former civil servant Aparajita Sarangi (Bhubaneswar) and former BJD spokesperson Baijayant Panda (Kendrapara) in its Lok Sabha seats.
The BJP as per recent reports is leading from five Lok Sabha seats –Suresh Pujari in Bargarh, Aparajita Sarangi in Bhubaneswa, Sangeeta Kumari Singdeo in Bolangir, Basant Kumar Panda in Kalahandi and Juel Oram in Sundergarh. Juel Oram is BJP’s only sitting MP.
The BJP performance may match the exit polls which had predicted it to win 25-30 Assembly seats.