Election results 2024: In historic upset in Odisha, BJP ends Naveen Patnaik’s 24-year tenure

BJP wins 78 seats in 147-member House; BJD gets 51 and Congress 14; BJD citadel breached due to strong anti-incumbency factor coupled with widespread ire against the dominance of former bureaucrat Pandian in governance and party affairs

Updated - June 05, 2024 12:22 am IST

Published - June 04, 2024 09:22 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate as the party leads in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, at the party office in Bhubaneswar, on June 4, 2024.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate as the party leads in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, at the party office in Bhubaneswar, on June 4, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

In what can be described as a historic upset, the 24-year-long tenure of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is set to come to an end, with the aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) poised to form government with a narrow majority in Odisha.

By 8 p.m., the BJP won 35 seats while its candidates had extended their victory margin on another 42 seats. The halfway mark for forming the government is 74 in 147-member Odisha Legislative Assembly.

Strong anti-incumbency sentiments coupled with widespread ire against the dominance of V.K. Pandian, the Tamil Nadu-born former bureaucrat in governance and party affairs, had brought down the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) citadel in the eastern State.

The anti-incumbency factor was so strong that Mr. Patnaik was trailing in Kantabanji, the second Assembly seat he had fought from. If he is defeated at the hand of BJP candidate Laxman Bag, this would be his first electoral defeat in the past 26 years.

The BJD’s failure to form a government was a personal setback for the five-time Odisha Chief Minister. If he had secured a sixth term, he would have been in contention to become India’s longest-serving Chief Minister, surpassing the record held by former Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

He was not alone. His senior Cabinet colleagues such as Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Bikram Keshari Arukha, Tukuni Sahu, and Rita Sahu were on brink of electoral defeat.

The BJD’s vote percentage had dropped from 44.71% in 2019 to 40.13% in 2024 by the evening while at the same time BJP’s vote surged to 39.93% in 2024 from 32.4% in 2019.

Ganjam tally

The BJP completely swept all seats in Mayurbhanj, the home district of President Droupadi Murmu, and significantly improved its tally in Ganjam, the home district of the Odisha Chief Minister. Besides, the party repeated its performance well in western Odisha districts, a bastion for the BJP.

Congress vote share

Though Congress candidates were leading in higher number of seats compared to their 2019 strength, its vote share also plunged this time. The Congress candidates were leading in 14 seats including one victory. The Congress won in small clusters in southern Odisha and coastal region.

Despite the party’s spectacular performance, Odisha BJP president Manmohan Samal was trailing behind his BJD counterpart in Chandbali Assembly segment.

For long, Odisha has been an enigmatic State for pollsters or political pundits. A man who did not have any experience in electoral politics till he turned 51 went on to become second longest serving CM of India. During past two decades, no politician had come closer to Odisha CM on popularity parameter.

There was clearly yearning for change. The change of regime was hastened by V.K. Pandian factor. The Odia sub-nationalism sentiment played out through out election. And top to bottom BJP leadership repeated the issue of Mr. Pandian’s Tamil origin, and his dominance featured every speech. Striking an emotional chord, the BJP also highlighted the missing keys of Ratnabhandar (treasury) of Shree Jagannath Temple and placed the blame on the BJD.

In contrast, the BJD stuck to its welfare programmes. In every public speech, Odisha CM listed the schemes’ names. But, the duration of his speeches hardly surpassed 10 minutes and those were monotonous. Most of the campaigning time was consumed by Mr. Pandian which showed the five-term CM in poor light.

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