The BJD got a clear majority in the Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC), the only municipal corporation that went to the polls along with other urban bodies of the State on September 19.
Out of the 40 wards in the BMC, the BJD bagged 24, the Congress 15, and independent one. The BJP put up a dismal show as none of its 35 candidates won.
Mayor Siba Shankar Das won the election but there was no way of donning the post again as it was reserved for OBC women.
Deputy Mayor Sanjukta Samal lost to her Congress rival. In the previous elections, she had got elected to the Berhampur Municipality on the BJP ticket, but later shifted her loyalty to the BJD.
Defectors who changed party just before the elections suffered defeat. They included former chairperson of the Berhampur Municipality Sulochana Swain and former president of city unit of the BJD and former deputy chairman of Berhampur municipality Niranjan Jena. Both of them had left the BJD just before the elections to contest on Congress ticket. Similarly, Congress leader Badrinarayan Nayak, who defected to the BJD, lost the election. However, Congress candidate Ranjit Nayak, who is in jail, won the election.
The election witnessed a high profile and keen contest. Four Ministers and several BJD MLAs camped in Berhampur to monitor the party’s campaign.
Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik gave a boost to the campaign in the last phase by promising to develop the city if BJD won the elections.
The Congress too roped in all its leading personalities, including its national general secretary in-charge of Odisha V.K. Hariprasad to campaign for the party.
The campaign witnessed grave allegations of criminalisation of politics, with both the BJD and Congress indulging in blame game. The BJD could successfully tackle the allegations against the Mayor and the anti-incumbency factor. But the Congress preferred to highlight and project Ramesh Jena, party MLA from Kukudakhandi and who hails from the city. Mr. Jena too had some allegations against him and the court barred him from campaigning in the city. This proved costly for the Congress, as it fared badly in its traditional stronghold in wards of the old city area as well as in wards where middle class educated voters were in majority.
BJD leaders Subash Moharana and Berhampur MLA R.C.C. Patnaik said the win in Berhampur proved that people had much faith in Mr. Naveen Patnaik.
Senior Congress leader Kailash Acharya criticised Mr. Patnaik for directly involving in the urban body elections. Mr. Acharya said that this hinted at Mr. Patnaik’s insecurity.