BHUBANESWAR: As counting of votes is underway with early leads indicating an absolute majority to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to form the next Government in the State, a record in itself for any regional party to win for the fifth consecutive time, the most significant takeaway from this election is that the people have given a clear mandate for a decisive Government.
That Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik perfectly fits the bill is evident from the overwhelming manner in which voters have reposed their faith in him.
The other key point of this election is that people are still not ready to give BJP a chance as they were not convinced that any of the State leaders of the saffron party could match the leadership of Naveen Patnaik.
The BJP’s ambition of coming to power remains a dream as the party failed to make a dent in the impregnable BJD fort in coastal districts which accounts for nearly half of the seats in the Assembly.
The euphoria created by BJP by launching an ambitious ‘Mission 120+’ (a target to win over 120 out of 147 seats in the Assembly) in September, 2017 has now come to haunt the party workers as to what went wrong despite sticking to the road map prepared by party’s national president Amit Shah.
The not-so-good performance of BJP in Odisha is baffling when Narendra Modi wave worked wonders across the country, particularly in States like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where it lost power to Congress only in December last year.
In a bid to end the 19 years of uninterrupted rule of the BJD Government, the national BJP leadership had launched a well-crafted plan starting from booth level to galvanise the party workers. Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, two star campaigners of the party, had given much time and energy to the State by launching a high decibel campaign early on to accomplice the ‘mission’.
The Prime Minister, during his several visits to the State before the election, had virtually exhorted people to give BJP a chance as they have tasted how the Congress and BJD had failed them during their long rule. This did not cut much ice as people once again reposed their faith in the leadership of Naveen.
While the BJP’s hope of capitalising on the anti-incumbency factor to work in its favour did not work, the attempt to paint the 19-year rule of BJD as a corrupt regime also came a cropper. With voters clearly not showing any interest in the BJP narrative, the saffron party is now left to wonder what went wrong in its strategy.
“The BJP will have a saving grace if it wins the eight Lok Sabha seats where the party was leading ahead of the nearest BJD rivals,” said a senior BJP leader adding, a thorough introspection is needed to find out where the party went wrong.
Of the 21 Parliamentary constituencies in the State, the BJP had won only Sundargarh seat in 2014 General Elections.
The BJP was leading in 22 Assembly seats till the filing of this report. The saffron party had 10 members in the outgoing Assembly.