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Buzz Over Early Poll

Bhubaneswar: Amid a buzz of an early election in Odisha, the question is going round as to who will benefit from this exercise? Is it the Governing BJD or the Opposition BJP? If Odisha goes to polls in December this year along with five other states, then the state has to encounter another general election for the Lok Sabha after five  months. Therefore, the state and its people will be sandwiched between two polls in a gap of five months. The back to back elections will certainly affect the developmental works in the ground and people have no other business than raising flags of political parties.

Recently, the rumor machine was accelerated when BJD’s Senior Vice President Debi Prasad Mishra said that his party, like others, was also preparing for the elections. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of an early polls thus giving scope to others to talk about the early polls. Shri Mishra said a Union Minister had hinted at it. Even Odisha BJP President Manmohan Samal also mentioned it in the past. So it is a possibility, provided the Election Commission of India allows, Odisha to go to elections with five other states scheduled next after Karnataka, said Shri Mishra.

The tenure of the current assembly would end on June 24, 2024. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in December last year had claimed that Odisha might go for early polls.

Odisha had been witnessing simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls since 2004. The state’s BJD Government then had pre-poned the Assembly elections and later, the twin elections were  held in Odisha. Thanks to the late Pyarimohan Mohapatra, the then Political Advisor of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, that the two elections were held in the state at one time thus saving money and time of state. The Governing BJD has also gained from the twin elections.

However, the BJD Top Leadership nowadays thinks otherwise and may prefer separate elections for which the state may recommend to dissolve the Assembly and go to polls along with five other states.

Assembly elections will be held in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — later this year, setting the stage the crucial general elections.

This kind of thinking comes as the BJD is assured that its victory is ensured in the next Assembly elections, thanks to weak Oppostion. They lack strategy to win Assembly polls in Odisha, observed a senior Political Observer. However, it was not sure whether the BJD could also perform better in the Lok Sabha elections, thanks to ‘Modi Factor’.

The previous 2019 election has set a trend in Odisha that the people vote for BJD in the Assembly elections and prefer BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Therefore, the BJP could win eight LS seats in 2019 while its tally was just one in 2014. The BJD leadership is worried over the trend and bifurcating the twin polls, may change the prevailing trend. All due to Narendra Modi Wave.

Naveen Patnaik’s party knows better that the Opposition BJP is not going to repeat its performance in 2024. The BJP in all possibility may not perform well as indicated from the Karnataka Assembly elections. As the BJP now rules over several states, it has developed anti-incumbency factor. Though the people have voted the Lotus party in Lok Sabha elections in majority, they may not repeat in the ensuing Vidhan Sabha polls. In that situation, BJD is eyeing for 130 seats this time.

It is often seen that Naveen Patnaik starts touring districts six months before each election the BJD has so far faced. This time, Naveen is yet to start his district tour. However, his Secretary V K Pandian has been visiting different districts and drawing crowds in all places. Political analysts consider that Naveen may not undertake district tour himself and therefore his Top Mandarin has been doing the duty. The visit of Shri Patnaik’s blue eyed officer cannot be ignored.  

Ace Mandarin, V K Pandian, Secretary to Chief Minister, who is making whirlwind tours across the State and proved to be a successful crowd puller. His meetings are largely attended and youth are being attracted to him. Saffron Party seems uncomfortable over Shri Pandian’s ‘People Connect’.

His visit and acceleration of Government Program Implementation in those areas has generated a feeling that the State is going for an early poll, political analysts feel.

This apart, the BJD would have a better chance if it wins with absolute majority in the Assembly elections. The results of the Assembly elections will have a positive impact and it will be easy to win more LS seats, a section of BJD leaders think. Therefore, it is not ruled out that BJD will prefer an early Assembly polls. Once BJD gets is desired numbers in Assembly with an early poll, it will naturally concentrate more on Lok Sabha seats. If BJD reaches its target of 20 of 21 Lok Sabha seats, the regional party would be in a better commanding position in Dilli Durbar. 

For BJP, an early poll may be harmful as the saffron party will find less time to mobilize people against the present government. The party will lose around six months time. Six months time is considered very crucial in politics. The BJP’s MLAs and MPs are yet to realize that they may face an election in December. They have to get ready and start work at the ground level. While many of its 8 LS MPs are in Delhi, the MLAs are working overtime in constituencies because they know the election is barely one year left. However, this kind of confusion is causing problems from the leaders and workers.

Neither the BJD nor the BJP have so far passed message to grass-root level leaders regarding the early polls. But, the BJD is certainly in an advantageous position as most of its field work is being done by the women’s self help groups. They are active at the ground level and only require certain additional funds to do the spade work at the village level. The BJD also has maximum number of Sarpanch and Panchayat functionaries who can be activated in a gap of a few weeks. This facility is not with the BJP as most of the panchayats are not in its hands now.

Anyway, as the buzz over the early polls continues, the leaders of different parties are confused. While Governing BJD has to decide to disslove the Odisha House for an early poll, it is calculating the risks involved in it. Opposition BJP and Congress Leaders are clueless about the move and keenly watching the moves of the Top Boss of the Regional Political Outfit.