Saffron surge sweeps away BJD government after 24 years in Odisha

BJD was dealt its biggest setback as its supremo and the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik lost one of the two seats he contested in this election.
Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda & Union minister Bhupendra Yadav celebrate BJP victory with sweets, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday
Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda & Union minister Bhupendra Yadav celebrate BJP victory with sweets, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday Photo| Debadatta Mallick

It was a saffron wave in Odisha.

Even as the BJP may have fallen short of the magic mark on its own and suffered huge reverses in the Hindi heartland, the party has caused a political upheaval in Odisha by securing a resounding victory in the twin elections for the Lok Sabha and Assembly, ending the 24-year-long rule of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who had been winning with a decisive mandate since 2000.

The BJP swept the Lok Sabha seats bagging a whopping 19 out of 21, leaving one each for the ruling party and the Congress. The saffron party snatched away 11 of the 12 seats won by the BJD in 2019 while the Congress retained its Koraput Lok Sabha seat.

In the Assembly, the BJP’s performance was no less than remarkable. While some pollsters had predicted an increase in seats, nobody had seriously expected a total upset. As the counting of votes began on Tuesday morning, the eventuality made itself clear almost instantly with BJP surging ahead in leads.

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By noon, it was clear that the saffron party had pulled off a miracle by its own standards.

The party had secured a majority and positioned itself to form the next government. In stark contrast, the BJD, which has dominated Odisha politics for nearly two decades, was well below the majority with the Congress winning a handful of seats.

The party was dealt its biggest setback as BJD supremo and the Chief Minister lost one of the two seats he contested in this election. Naveen Patnaik was defeated by BJP’s Laxman Bag in Kantabanji with a margin of over 16,000 votes. The Chief Minister won in his stronghold, but there too, the victory margin was reduced to a mere 3,000 odd from tens of thousands in the past five elections.

On its part, the BJP did suffer a couple of shocks with its state president Manmohan Samal being defeated by BJD's Byomkesh Ray, the sitting MLA from the constituency. Samal was credited for convincing the BJP's central leadership to drop the idea of forging an alliance with the BJD and going solo in this election.

Winning only 23 Assembly seats against the 112 of BJD in 2019 elections, the BJP stormed into the BJD bastions in coastal, central and southern Odisha. The saffron surge was so strong that it knocked down most of the BJD veterans including long-time ministers who could not even put up a fight with the newcomers.

A moribund Congress, however, improved its position marginally. The fate of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Sarat Pattanayak, who is contesting from Nuapada, was similar to BJP president Samal. He lost to BJD minister Rajendra Prasad Dholakia.

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Acknowledging the invaluable contribution of Odisha’s voters to the national BJP tally without which it would have been reduced a minority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the people of the state profusely. While expressing his commitment to Odisha, he said, "It is a resounding victory for good governance. BJP will leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the dreams of people and taking Odisha to new heights of progress."

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated all the winning candidates across parties. "I express my respect and gratitude for the dedicated efforts and sacrifices of all the workers and leaders of Biju Janata Dal," he wrote on X.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who won the Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat trouncing BJD's organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das, expressed his gratitude to the people of the state for blessing the BJP with a decisive mandate.

"A victory of 'Odia Asmita', this cherished win is a testament of people’s trust and confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modiji's leadership. This day has been possible only due to the vision and guidance of our senior leadership and the sweat and blood of our karyakartas. With the blessings of Mahaprabhu Jagannath, we  will serve the people diligently, fulfil all the promises and take Odisha and ‘ Odia Asmita’ to new heights of greatness,: he stated.

Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda & Union minister Bhupendra Yadav celebrate BJP victory with sweets, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday
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