BJD gains much from Patnaik's clean image

The Odisha government’s performance over the last 14 years has been lauded by many, and its efficient functioning in the aftermath of the Phailin cyclone was acknowledged even by the United Nations.

However, it is the clean image of the Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik that played a key role in the party’s glorious win in the just-concluded Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.

The final tally, which came early on Saturday morning, saw the regional outfit capturing as many as 20 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, besides 117 of the 147 Assembly constituencies. The party, in the 2009 twin polls, had got 14 Lok Sabha and 103 Assembly seats. Its vote percentage is up to 44 per cent from 38.8 per cent in 2009.

The principal opposition, the Congress, was unable to open its account as far as Lok Sabha seats are concerned and captured only 16 Assembly seats. During the 2009 polls, the party had won six Lok Sabha and 27 Assembly seats. Its polling percentage also suffered a setback, with it being down to 25.9 per cent from 29.1 per cent in 2009.

The BJP put on a slightly better show by winning one Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats. In 2009, it had not managed to get a single Lok Sabha seat but won six in the Assembly elections. Its percentage of votes also saw an upturn from 15.5 in 2009 to 21.6 this year.
Fully aware that defeating the BJD would not be possible unless they inflicted damage to Patnaik’s clean image, both parties had made an attempt to drag his name into mining and chit scams on the eve of the polls. However, their plan fizzled out as their allegations were not backed by any concrete evidence. The results, in fact, prove that the CM’s popularity remains untouched.

The failure of the Congress to create a leader who can challenge the towering personality of Patnaik has been a major factor in the party’s humiliating defeat. A few days before elections, former state minister Jayadev Jena was appointed as the new PCC chief and Srikanta Jena was named state campaign committee chairman for the twin polls. However, both Congress leaders proved to be no match for Patnaik and faced defeat. Jayadev Jena lost from his home Assembly constituency in Keonjhar district, while Srikanta Jena tasted defeat in Balasore Lok Sabha seat.

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