Odisha Channel Bureau
BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha BJP cadres are upbeat, having already smelt impressive results in the panchayat elections in the State. What has made them buoyed has been the overwhelming success in the first two phases of the rural polls.
The saffron party has damaged the reputation of the ruling BJD by emerging as the main competitor of the regional party headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The BJP cadres are doubly happy that they have snatched away the No. 2 position in State politics at the grassroots level from opposition Congress.
Going by the outcome of the first two phases, the BJP is now hoping to bag more than 300 Zilla Parishad seats out of total of 851 in the State.
The party had bagged only 36 Zilla Parishad seats out of the total of 851 in the last polls in 2012.
But there seems to have been a vote for change coupled with people’s anger against the BJD and failure of Congress leaders in the State to put up a united fight against their rivals.
As a result, the BJP is set to win about 130 seats out of the 362 Zilla Parishad zones (188 seats in first phase and 175 seats in second phase where polling was conducted in the first two phases of poll held on February 13 and 15.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already thanked people of Odisha for voting for the BJP in the panchayat elections in the State, thereby adding to the strength of the party workers. BJP president Amit Shah has also thanked people of the State for supporting his party.
The BJP’s unexpected success comes amid growing infighting in the BJD’s party organisations in many Assembly constituencies across the State.
Many BJD legislators and Ministers were facing opposition from the people as well as own workers in their own constituencies.
Many of BJD workers at the grassroots level had the entered fray as BJP candidates for Zilla Parishad seats as well as contesting for Samiti Member, Sarpanch and Ward Member posts.
While elections for Zilla Parishad seats are fought using party symbol, the elections for other posts are contested with free symbols.
Congress has suffered a setback by losing its position as the main challenger to the BJD. The party had remained in the second position by bagged 128 seats in 2012.
Congress has not been able to win any Zilla Parishad seat in as many as 18 districts where polling was held in the first two phases of the current polls. It has won only 20-odd seats in the two phases.
As BJD is losing its strongholds to BJP and Congress is performing poorly due to lack of unity as well as shortage of funds, BJP is now expecting similar outcomes in its favour in the remaining three phases of polls on February 17, 19 and 21.
Top BJP leaders, who are close supporters of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, are now a worried lot. This because the BJD was set to win nearly 200 seats out of the 362 Zilla Parishad seats where elections were already held in the first two phases.
The BJD, headed by the Chief Minister since its birth, had bagged a total of 651 Zilla Parishad seats out of the total of 851 seats in 2012.