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Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik lately laughed off a buzz about his ailing well being whereas paying a go to to the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. Each time there’s an election, he stated, rumours begin floating about his well being situation.

On February 28, Patnaik had the final snigger as his social gathering, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), swept the Panchayat and Zilla Parishad polls, profitable a landslide of over 90 per cent seats. Each the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering and Congress put up a dismal present. The one-sided outcomes have as soon as once more dashed the BJP’s hopes in Odisha.

The Narendra Modi wave that had swept the 2014 parliamentary elections was clearly lacking in Odisha because the BJD had received 20 out of the state’s 21 Lok Sabha seats. However within the 2017 Zilla Parishad elections, the BJP had put up a spectacular efficiency by profitable over 300 of the 800-plus seats. Although the BJD was nonetheless in pole place, it was the saffron social gathering that had made headlines.

Quickly, Delhi’s political circles had been abuzz in regards to the BJP’s probabilities in Odisha. The excitement in distant Delhi grew to become even stronger after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar broke ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and returned to the Nationwide Democratic Alliance fold, main many to consider that the BJP would go for the kill in Odisha. The BJP had a tie-up with the BJD in Odisha till Patnaik ended it abruptly in 2009.

Following the 2017 Panchayat polls, many exterior Odisha had been satisfied that the BJP had a practical likelihood to wrest the state from the BJD within the 2019 meeting elections. However that didn’t occur. Naveen Patnaik, who didn’t marketing campaign within the 2017 Panchayat polls (he didn’t marketing campaign this time both), received the message and contested from the Bijepur meeting seat in western Odisha in 2019. Western Odisha is the place the BJP had carried out very nicely.

The simultaneous elections in 2019 threw up blended outcomes. Whereas the BJD received 112 out of the 147 meeting seats, it may win solely 12 Lok Sabha constituencies. The BJP improved its Lok Sabha tally by profitable eight seats, up from only one in 2014, nevertheless it may win solely 23 meeting seats. Successful eight Lok Sabha seats in 2019 had rekindled the BJP’s hopes. 5 of them got here from Western Odisha the place the social gathering was historically stronger.

Subsequent month’s civic ballot outcomes are unlikely to be any totally different. BJP chief and former union minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi stated this was not a “janadesh” however “dhanadesh”, which meant the voters had been purchased over by the ruling BJD.

The reality is nothing appears to hassle Patnaik who’s by far the preferred politician in Odisha and one among India’s longest-serving chief ministers, heading in the right direction to interrupt the file of West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu subsequent yr. There may be nonetheless no signal of Odisha voters becoming bored with the BJD and there’s no anti-incumbency even after 22 years of uninterrupted Patnaik rule. The BJD has a robust cadre that’s nicely entrenched throughout the state and populist measures that cater to most sections of rural Odisha have been working wonders for Patnaik.

By constructing infrastructure round temples, standing by the Missionaries of Charity and stressing that the Nationwide Register of Residents (NRC) received’t be applied within the state, although his social gathering had backed the Citizenship Modification Act (CAA) in Parliament, Patnaik has reached out to Hindus, Muslims and Christians in equal measure. Additionally, Odisha sponsoring the Indian hockey teams that received medals and hearts has added to his stature within the notion recreation. His secular and progressive picture has remained intact over time.

Odisha has a minuscule Muslim inhabitants and there’s no scope for any polarisation. Additionally, the state hardly votes on caste traces. Within the absence of Mandal and Kamandal, Odisha will likely be an extended and onerous battle for the BJP.

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