About 32 million voters will exercise their franchise simultaneously in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Odisha across four phases, beginning 11 April, the Election Commission of India (EC) said on Sunday. And when Odisha goes to polls next month, there is a lot at stake for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress play catch-up.
In the 147-member state assembly, the BJD has 117 MLAs. The party had won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. A win in 2019 will give BJD chief and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik his fifth term in office. Any shortfall will be seen as the BJD’s dwindling popularity in the state, said experts, but argued that people will still vote Patnaik back despite some anti-incumbency.
“BJD is still the leader though BJP has improved its strength and the Congress is regrouping in the state following their victory in neighbouring Chhattisgarh,” said Jayant Mahapatra, a political analyst in Odisha.
- A win for BJD in Odisha elections will give Naveen Patnaik a fifth term, any shortfall will be indicative of his dwindling popularity
- While BJP has improved its strength in Odisha, the Congress would like to do a Chhattigarh in the state in upcoming elections
Prashant K. Nanda*