Dhamnagar bypoll to reveal if BJP can stand test of time

Between 1952 and 2000, Dhamnagar favoured Congress the most, sending six legislators to the State Assembly.

Published: 11th October 2022 01:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th October 2022 01:18 AM   |  A+A-

EVM, Voting

Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

Come November 3, the Bharatiya Janata Party will face an acid test in the by-election to Dhamnagar Assembly segment in Bhadrak district of Odisha. The poll may appear a smooth affair considering it’s a holding seat for the saffron outfit. Will it be? The party has just staved off an attempt by the ruling Biju Janata Dal to poach Bishnu Charan Sethi’s son Suryabanshi Suraj Stithaprajna. It was Sethi’s untimely demise that necessitated the by-poll. Despite murmurs of discontent from certain party sections, Suryabanshi as the next candidate appeared a natural choice. Things will get interesting once Biju Janata Dal announces its nominee and the Congress throws its hat in the ring.

Between 1952 and 2000, Dhamnagar favoured Congress the most, sending six legislators to the State Assembly. Barring the election of an Independent in 2000, the BJP and the BJD shared equal honours in the last 22 years. However, after the regional party severed ties with BJP in 2009 and exited from the NDA, the BJD won twice before Sethi reclaimed it for the latter.

This by-election comes at a critical juncture for the BJP. After 2019, the national outfit lost all four by-elections to the BJD in the state, and no one is even talking about the shocking losses in panchayat and urban polls. In the Balasore by-poll, the party even failed to retain its seat after the death of incumbent Madan Mohan Dutta, which reduced its numbers in the Assembly from 23 to 22. Despite a strong organisational set-up, factionalism in the BJP is reflected in its recent poor showing; the strong performance in 2019 now appears to be a thing of the past.

If it can put its house in order, the next hurdle will be Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, a formidable election machine. Given the regional outfit’s record at the hustings and deep penetration among the electorate, Dhamnagar could present itself as a unique challenge for the BJP. It received a bout of much-needed energy from national president J P Nadda’s visit to the state last month. Nadda’s clarion call of “BJD-mukt Odisha” on the lines of Congress-mukt Bharat may have galvanised the saffron party, but the odds are stacked up. Can it shake off its jaded approach and the perception that it is still friends with the BJD before the all-important 2024 general elections? Dhamnagar will tell the tale.

India Matters


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp