How BJP outsmarted BJD and conquered the state of Odisha

The general elections were also marked by a palpable anti-incumbency sentiment against the BJD, which had been in power for the last five terms.
BJP workers distribute sweets to celebrate the party’s victory in the state elections, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday
BJP workers distribute sweets to celebrate the party’s victory in the state elections, in Bhubaneswar on TuesdayPhoto | Debadatta Mallick

BHUBANESWAR: From zero Lok Sabha seats in 2009 to 20 in 2024, the BJP has clinched a historic win in the general elections in Odisha, marking a significant shift in the state’s political landscape.

The BJP, which had won only one Lok Sabha seat in 2014, emerged victorious in eight seats in 2019 due to a strong saffron wave. Its vote share also went up from 16.9 per cent in 2009 to 45 per cent in this election. Prior to 2009, BJP was an ally of BJD.

The Modi wave was supreme among the multi-faceted factors that contributed to BJP’s unprecedented success in the state. The party’s meticulous campaign strategy, booth management and continuous harping on BJD’s weakness (‘Odia Asmita’) played a pivotal role in its victory. The saffron party strategically focused on grassroots-level mobilisation, leveraging the extensive network of its cadres and affiliated organisations. It also effectively utilised social media platforms to disseminate its message, connect with voters and counter opposition narratives, thereby widening its outreach and influence.

The general elections were also marked by a palpable anti-incumbency sentiment against the BJD, which had been in power for the last five terms. Discontentment over governance issues such as unemployment, corruption, agrarian distress and inadequate infrastructure created fertile ground for BJP to capitalise on disillusioned voters seeking change.

“The BJP leadership sensed the mood of voters after the alliance talks failed. The party deployed a team of leaders to move around the state and craft a targeted campaign addressing specific concerns and aspirations of different segments of the population. It was put in place and worked as expected,” said a party insider.

The BJP also focused on strengthening its presence in every constituency by accepting turncoats from rival camps open-handedly, ensuring effective mobilisation of supporters, and meticulous execution of its campaign strategy at the grassroots level. It also succeeded in broadening the support base and attracting voters across different strata of society by tailoring its messaging appeal to the varied demographics.

Candidate selection was also another major factor along with high intensity campaigning by top leadership including PM Modi, Amit Shah, Union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states.

Political analysts said Modi’s guarantee, coupled with his popular appeal and track record of developmental initiatives at the national level, resonated strongly with voters, and the contribution of RSS in energising the organisation further bolstered the party’s electoral prospects.”Central to BJP’s electoral pitch was its promise of transformative development and inclusive growth. The party’s emphasis on infrastructure development, job creation and other welfare schemes struck a chord with voters, especially in rural and semi-urban areas where aspirations for better livelihood opportunities are high,” said political science professor Gyanaranjan Swain.

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