What went wrong with ‘invincible’ BJD in Odisha?

A strong anti-incumbency against the BJD is the most important factor behind the party’s poll debacle…reports Asian Lite News

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has suffered the first poll defeat since its formation after splitting away from the erstwhile Janata Dal in 1997. The party remained invincible for over two decades after coming to power riding on the popularity of Biju Patnaik in the 2000 Assembly elections.

The party’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that BJD’s vote share in this election was 40.22 per cent which is higher than the vote share of BJP which stood at 40.07 per cent.

BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ruled the state for 24 years earning the honour of the second longest-serving Chief Minister in India. However, the party’s former alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has put a break to its winning streak with a thumping win in the 2024 Assembly elections.

A strong anti-incumbency against the BJD is the most important factor behind the party’s poll debacle.

As per the political observers, among other major factors that led to the defeat of the ruling BJD in the state include an aggressive campaign by the BJP over Odia Asmita (Odia self-identity), Non-Odia successor to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in a reference to Tamil Nadu-born BJD leader V.K. Pandian and the health condition of 77-year-old Patnaik.

After the alliance talks failed to materialise, the BJP immediately resorted to an aggressive campaign with the party heavyweights from across the country making a beeline to the state. The campaign was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who launched scathing attacks on the BJD government on various issues.

The BJP attacked Patnaik’s close aide Pandian by accusing him of using Patnaik in the poll campaign despite his poor health conditions.

The party accused Pandian of ruling the state as a proxy by holding a frail CM Patnaik hostage.

Tamil Nadu-born Pandian was at the centre of an aggressive poll campaign by the BJP.

It also raised the issue that Pandian, a former bureaucrat, would take over the reins of the party as well as the government after winning elections in 2024, which is a threat to the self-identity and pride of Odisha.

The BJP put all its efforts into convincing the voters about an impending threat to Odia culture, language, literature, and Odia Asmita following the takeover of BJD’s leadership by Pandian post-BJD victory in the 2024 elections.

The poll results suggest that the BJP has succeeded in convincing the voters regarding the probable takeover of the government in Odisha by non-Odia Pandian and the alleged threat to Odia Asmita.

The BJP also raised other issues such as the “mismanagement” in Shree Jagannath Temple — the “missing keys” of Ratna Bhandar (treasure of the 12th-century shrine), and migration of labourers to other states played a major role in the defeat of an “invincible” BJD.

Another factor that led to BJD’s defeat was the failure on the part of the party to create a strong and able second-rung of leadership.

Naveen Patnaik

Patnaik quits, BJP to form new govt

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday tendered his resignation to Governor Raghubar Das following the party’s defeat in the Assembly elections.

CM Patnaik will sit in the opposition bench for the first time in his over two-decade-long political career.

The outgoing CM went to the Governor’s house in the morning in a carcade and submitted his resignation.

Senior leaders of the party, including V.K. Pandian, Pranab Prakash Das, Arun Sahu, Debi Mishra and Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak also held a meeting at the residence of Patnaik to discuss the future strategy of the party.

The writer-turned-politician was first sworn in as the Chief Minister of Odisha on March 5, 2000, after his party came to power riding on the popularity of his father and former CM Biju Patnaik.

Naveen Patnaik will leave the CM’s chair after 24 years of his rule. His dream to become the longest-serving chief minister of the country with the sixth term was shattered by a strong anti-incumbency wave against his government.

The BJD managed to secure only 51 seats this time as compared to the 112 seats it got in the 2019 Assembly polls.

The Bharatiya Janata Party wrested the power from BJD by winning 78 seats out of the 147-member Assembly.

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