BHUBANESWAR: Keeping at bay the Modi wave, the BJD continued with its winning spree by retaining the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat by a margin of over 2.98 lakh votes in the bypoll, the results of which were declared on Sunday.
Though the BJP made a spirited attempt to snatch the seat, it fell far short of the required votes. The Congress, which persisted with the present state leadership despite repeated demands for an organisational overhaul, finished a poor third.
The overwhelming victory of BJD candidate Pratyusha Rajeswari, the widow of former MP Hemendra Chandra Singh, showed that the voters had rejected the charges of corruption and foreign origin raised against her by rival political parties.
The BJD had led a well-planned campaign by stationing as many as 13 ministers, MPs and MLAs in the constituency to oversee election management. A minister or a senior leader camped in each of the panchayat headquarters in the constituency to steer the BJD’s campaign. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also campaigned in the constituency for three days to ensure Pratyusha’s victory. ‘Win the bypoll at any cost’ was the directive that Naveen reportedly gave to his ministers and senior leaders.
Even as the state dealt with Cyclone Hudhud during the campaign period, the state secretariat wore a deserted look for more than two weeks as all the ministers were camping in Kandhamal. Failure of Opposition Congress also helped the BJD in a big way. Though the senior leaders had closed ranks to fight the BJD, the party had given up the fight even before it started.
Congress candidate Abhimanyu Behera, who was an MLA in 1985, was almost an unknown entity. The party, which is rapidly turning irrelevant in the state, could garner only less than 1.5 lakh votes in the election to the seat in May.
An analysis of votes cast showed that the BJD bagged a lion’s share of 61.5 per cent of over 7.75 lakh total votes.