Naveen Patnaik might be sure of bouncing back to power as Chief Minister of Odisha for the fourth time in succession and win a good number of seats in the Lok Sabha for his party, but he is equally worried about the possibility of his tally declining as compared to the 2009 polls.
In the last 2009 polls, BJD won 103 seats in the 147-member Odisha Assembly and managed to get 14 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the State. The number had ensured the CM a comfortable position and even helped him to abort a coup staged by his one-time advisor, Pyari Mohan Mahapatra, who could not master enough support to form a breakaway group either.
As the Congress Party has become weak due to infighting and its key leaders deserting the party, chances are there for the BJP to increase its strength, banking on anti-incumbency prevalent at places and the “Modi” factor. If the BJP increases its strength to at least 26 in the 147-Member State Assembly, it would gain the status of a recognised Opposition Party. BJP had strength of 32 in the Odisha Assembly in 2004 and had slipped down to 6 in 2009. BJP also expects gain four seats at the expense of BJD.
The BJP State unit president KV Singdeo said, “The results of the 2014 general elections in Odisha will surpise both the BJD and the Congress. BJP will perform better than our expectation. Modi wave would help the party winning in 13 coastal districts also.”
Naveen’s worry is all about retaining his numbers. High voter turn-out in the two-phased simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections at 74 per cent against 65.3 per cent polling in last general elections in 2009 has added to this as large number of young voters, particularly the first-time voters want a change. Women voters have outnumbered men in tribal dominated Kandhamal and Gajapati districts. In at least four out of 13 Assembly segments in Ganjam district turnout of women was more.
Despite the claims of Naveen for increasing BJD’s tally in the current elections, several opinion poll surveys point to the decline in party’s strength, but not enough to deny him the chief ministership.
– Ashok B Sharma