BHUBANESWAR/SAMBALPUR: Putting the recent Dhamnagar loss behind, the BJD romped home in style, steamrolling the BJP, in the keenly watched Padampur bypoll, result of which was announced on Thursday.
In the face of a high blitz campaigning by the BJP, greenhorn Barsha Singh Bariha trounced the much-experienced Pradeep Purohit of the saffron party by a margin of 42,679 votes to retain the seat for the ruling party.
Barsha pocketed 1,20,807 votes while Purohit could garner 78,128 votes. Congress was pushed to a distant third position as party veteran and two-time MLA Satya Bhusan Sahu managed to poll only 3,594 votes. Ten candidates, including five independents, were in the fray.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting MLA Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha. While the BJD had fielded Bariha’s 29-year-old daughter Barsha, BJP had pinned hope on Purohit, who had won the seat in 2014 and lost to Bariha senior in 2019 with a margin of 5,734 votes.
Voting for the bypoll was held on December 5 with a record 81 per cent (pc) voters exercising their franchise. The votes were counted amidst tight security on Thursday. Barsha not only got the highest votes polled by any candidate, including her father, in the constituency before but also pushed the party vote share up by around 17 pc. She polled 58 pc votes against the BJP’s 37.51. Though BJP bagged 563 more votes than 2019, its share dropped by around one pc this time.
Padampur win is the BJD’s third big victory in a bypoll. Rita Sahu had polled a record 73.68 pc votes and won the Bijepur bypoll by a margin of 97,990 in 2019. In Brajarajnagar, Alaka Mohanty had captured 61.25 pc votes to defeat her BJP rival with a margin of 65,999 votes in June this year.
The poll outcome has dealt a blow to the BJP which had high hopes of consolidating the party’s position in its traditional stronghold of western Odisha after the Dhamnagar bypoll success. The party had gone all out against BJD to wrest this seat. Padampur saw back-to-back raids on traders by the Income Tax and GST departments just a week ahead of the by-election.
While the I-T officials raided three businessmen known to be close to the ruling BJD, the GST wing of the state government cracked down on BJP-associated traders. Barsha also had to face a lot of heat from the BJP during the campaign with the latter branding her an outsider.
As the fight seemed to get tighter, BJD’s talisman and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik entered the field and physically campaigned for her at the last stages. This was his first physical campaigning for a candidate in a bypoll after 2019 general elections.
And, this turned the tables on the BJP. Soon after the announcement of the results, Naveen spoke to Barsha over phone and congratulated her for the massive win. He credited the win to the dedication of party leaders and workers and people of Padampur. He assured to fulfill the promises made by the party.
Pained by personal attacks on Barsha: CM
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he was deeply pained by the personal and vile attacks by BJP on Barsha Singh Bariha and decided to stand by her during the campaign in Padampur bypoll. “I want to tell BJP that people of Odisha will never support disrespect to women,” he said | P3