BHUBANESWAR: THE rise of the BJD in Odisha has spelt doom for the national parties, particularly the Congress.Once at the centre of State politics, the grand old party seems to be struggling for relevance even as the Naveen Patnaik-led regional outfit is fighting it out for a fifth consecutive term in 2019.
An analysis of last six elections in the State reveals the vote share of Congress, CPI, CPM and NCP, has significantly come down while BJP, a marginal player till 1998, has increased considerably. The vote share of the regional outfit BJD, which was formed in 1997 after former CM Biju Patnaik’s death, has seen a significant rise every election.
From a vote share of 44.9 per cent in 1996 when the party had won 16 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress has slid to 26.38 per cent in Lok Sabha and 25.74 per cent in Assembly elections in 2014. In contrast, the BJP which had secured 13.42 pc votes in 1996 and failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat, bagged 21.88 per cent in Lok Sabha and 18 per cent in Assembly polls in 2014.
There has not been significant change in vote share of CPI in General Elections. While its share was 0.34 pc in 1996, it was 0.31 in 2014. The situation was no better for CPM as it has come down from 1.69 pc in 1996 to 0.17 pc in 2014.
The BJD has been the largest beneficiary of the declining popularity of national parties. The party contested first election in 1998 when it had polled 27.5 pc votes winning nine out of 12 LS seats it had contested. Its ally BJP had then won seven out nine seats with a vote share of 21.19 pc.
At least seven per cent swing in favour of Naveen Patnaik-led BJD party in 2014 catapulted the regional party to a landslide victory in simultaneous polls in the State where it stormed back to power for the fourth consecutive term.
Propelled by a big jump in its vote share to 44.77 per cent from 37.23 per cent in 2009, the regional party swept the polls grabbing 20 of the 21 LS seats and 117 of the 147 Assembly seats in the State. In 2009 General Elections, it had won 103 Assembly and 14 LS seats. Vote share of BJD in 2009 Assembly polls was 44.16 pc.
“The regional party fights election on local issues which the national parties hardly focus on. The Congress has been tested. Though BJP has a chance on the performance of its national leaders, but its state leadership is not yet accepted by voters,” said Satya Prakash Dash, head of Political Science department of Sambalpur University.
The BJP’s performance was not up to the mark in 2009 when its alliance with BJD fell apart, as it could garner only 16.89 pc and 15.25 pc in LS and Assembly respectively winning only six Assembly segments and no Parliamentary constituency.
Even as Congress polled 40.43 pc in 2004, it could bag only two LS seats. BJP and BJD won seven and 11 seats with a vote share of 19.3 pc and 30 pc respectively. In Assembly elections, the two won 32 and 61 seats with a vote share of 40.43 pc and 47.44 pc respectively.
In 1999, the BJP-BJD alliance was at its peak as the combination had won 19 LS seats with a vote share of 24.63 pc and 33 pc. Though Congress had polled highest 36.94 pc votes, it could register win in only two seats. The performance of BJD was best in 2000 Assembly elections when it had polled 51 pc votes in 84 seats it had contested.