The recent trend of BJP gaining seats might sound surprising to many political pundits but it is not that surprising for people who monitor the political atmosphere of Odisha. The recent gain is not because of a single factor but a culmination of a large number of factors. On March 5 of this year, Naveen Patnaik will complete 17th anniversary of getting elected to the post of CM.
Now let’s see how Naveen Patnaik managed to rule for so long and reasons behind the current debacle for BJD.
The main problem in Odisha was the lack of an alternative to Naveen Patnaik, Odisha since long has been anti-congress due to huge corruption and law and order issues during congress rule. There was huge political vacuum when Naveen Patnaik emerged, no charismatic leader who could mobilise masses existed and Naveen Patnaik’s clean image helped BJD garner votes, he was the only star campaigner and being the son of Biju Patnaik the person who did much for Odisha but Odia’s couldn’t reciprocate him during his lifetime thought that by electing Naveen Patnaik they will repay the debt of Biju Patnaik.
How BJP gained?
When Naveen’s image was getting dented due to his incapacity, Odisha saw in Modi a Strong and charismatic leader. Naveen’s biggest trump card was his clean image but in recent years it has been greatly tarnished by the chit fund scam in Odisha and led to the implication of a large number of BJD functionaries including legislators and office secretary of Naveen Patnaik, who were interrogated by CBI and one MP was even arrested. Although Naveen Patnaik was not directly involved but he didn’t emerge unscratched either, it was a huge setback for BJD.
Even the mining scam pointed many fingers at the Naveen administration.
Apart from this large-scale scams corruption at the local level is rampant even after being at the helm of affairs for so long Odisha hasn’t seen a great increase in development indicators. Whereas at the same time Modi’s crusade against Black money, recent demonetisation drive and other achievements such as surgical strike have managed to create an image of strong, clean and decisive leader among the masses in Odisha. Adding on to it a large Odia diaspora exists in Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat where people saw public works and development projects done under Modi regime and that increased faith of people in him. Also, BJP workers have worked hard and organization seems to be rejuvenated this time.
Infighting in BJD
In recent years factionalism has taken a toll on BJD with many ministers, legislators, and other functionaries crossing swords against each other. This infighting sent a wrong message to the voters. Combined with this was the fact that there was a lack of any strong disciplinary action against involved party members.This sent a strong signal to the voters that the party is no longer able to keep its house in order. The action was not taken against the party members who had corruption charges against them. This was enough signal for the people to decipher.
Marginalization of INC
After 2014 election, congress has been struggling with leadership crisis which has made its vote base erode fast. Many Congress leaders have joined BJP and this resulted in a fight which is no longer remaining triangular but between BJD and BJP only.
The way ahead seems to be much better
BJP has won seats in the constituencies of some seating cabinet ministers and strong leaders of BJD which shows the increasing discontentment due to utter neglect for a long period of time. Moreover, this shock comes at a time when BJD leaders have become much complacent of winning. Let’s see if BJP is able to maintain this faith of people if it does then it is surely going to gain much in 2019 Lok sabha and Assembly polls.