Delhi

Now playing in Odisha: the game of numbers

Speculation rife as BJP hopes to breach BJD fortress come May 23; ruling party confident of victory

The havoc wreaked by cyclone Fani in Odisha after it hit the eastern coast on May 3 relegated all talk about the outcome of the recently held simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State to the background. But as the day for counting of votes nears and officials are being trained for the exercise, leaders of different parties and their supporters are now busy calculating the number of seats they will secure.

Since the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee remained largely dormant during campaigning and only a few party candidates put up a strong fight to make the contest triangular in different phases of the polls, the main battle seems to have taken place between the ruling BJD and BJP on a majority of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats.

As a result, the main focus of discussion about the results revolves around the performance of the BJD and the BJP. Can the BJD repeat its 2014 performance this time? Will the BJP succeed in improving its performance significantly both on the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats? These are the questions that are being debated not just in party back rooms but in the public domain as well.

While the BJD fought the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats with full force in all four phases with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik leading the charge, the BJP was also able to influence the narrative by seeking support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last two phases of the polls. Apart from Mr. Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah, many senior leaders of the party at the Centre came down to campaign in almost every region of the State.

The BJP leaders are now claiming that their party would win more Lok Sabha seats than the ruling BJD. They are also exuding confidence that their candidates will win a sizeable number of Assembly seats.

The BJD leaders too are confident of victory in both the elections. They, however, admit that their party will not be able to repeat their spectacular 2014 performance of winning 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 117 of the 147 Assembly seats. The Congress had won 16 Assembly seats and the BJP had bagged 10 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in 2014.

As regards the Congress, the party leaders are still clueless as to why the OPCC almost surrendered the opposition space to the BJP despite the fact that the party had been finishing second in all the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State since 2000 when the BJD came to power in the State for the first time.

The simultaneous polls have been held in Odisha for all the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 146 of the total 147 Assembly segments. Polling was adjourned in the Patkura seat under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency following the death of the BJD nominee.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:15:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/now-playing-in-odisha-the-game-of-numbers/article27142716.ece

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