Three questions arising after the Bijepur by-poll, how BJD won the election, why BJP lost and why Congress lost its deposit?
Let’s find out the answer, it is BJD who declared the name, Rita Sahu, on 25th September as its candidate though the election commission yet to notify. There was a small resistance from few corners of BJD members like Piku Mishra, Prasanna Acharya etc but BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik managed to diffuse its internal conflict.
Secondly, BJD managed to pull out many capable leaders from both BJP and Congress. Congress was almost finished after the joining of late MLA Subal Sahu’s family with BJD. Major chunk of Congress workers followed Rita Sahu. BJD also managed to pick many leaders from BJP, like District President Narayan Sahu. Apart from Narayan Sahu, many BJP workers joined BJD. BJP was literary weak. The internal conflict of BJP was higher. Though they show off themselves as a party man, many local leaders were opposing the candidature of Ashok Panigrahi, they supported BJD.
Third, since declaration of its candidate in September last week, BJD started working in the ground relentlessly. The ruling party declared many lucrative projects for Bijepur constituency wooing the voters. It organized SHG, women groups, religious groups, youth groups, and clubs and funded them. Every rural cricket field boundary was gheraoed with BJD flag, youth clubs were stick banner of BJD party and all temples in the constituency were newly whitewashed. BJD got enough time to organize its ground since September.
Fourth, the ruling party also worked day night to construct roads and many declared projects in Bijepur and Barpali block.
Fifth, though doing so hard work for the constituency, Congress’s flow was high till the 18th -19. If Congress would have managed to take its traditional vote around 45-50,000 then BJD may be in trouble. BJD toil hard, still they distributed heavy amount of money in the last 3-4 days ranging from Rs 400 / to Rs 5000/- per vote.
Come to BJP, BJP was not confident since the starting. The party was marred with high internal conflicts. The list of aspirants for the party ticket was long and no one was supporting the joining of Ashok Panigrahi. Ashok Panigrahi as a person was also not acceptable by the people for his arrogance.
Many BJP leaders joined BJD and Congress and weaken the party. The ruling party in the centre had nothing to offer like the BJD except money to purchase votes and spread rumors against opposition. No special declaration for Western Odisha nor any core issues or demands of Western Odisha has been touched in the 4 years of Modi rule.
BJP was upbeat and calculating the 92,000 votes got in panchayat poll. But those who were involve in getting those 92,000 votes were been sidelined in the by-poll. In the by-poll hardly any local BJP cadre was involve actively. All the BJP propaganda was handled by outsiders from Chattisgarh, and other parts of Odisha.
In the last phase BJP purchased votes vesting crores of rupees. Nothing was there in the favour of the party or the candidate.
Congress candidate lost its deposit in its own bastion. There are many reasons which went against the Congress candidate to lose the election.
First, the Congress party is losing ground and its relevance slowly from Odisha politics due to in-fights.
Party delayed in decision making. The media created a perception of fight between BJD and BJP as Congress party was not visible in the ground and lagging behind. When Congress declared its candidate on 4th February, the candidate was not having enough time and fund to organize. Still around 20,000 workers throughout the constituency were assembled at the time of nomination filing to support him. If name would have been declared before few months the equation may have been different.
Further, many Congress leaders stagnant the campaign supporting BJP and BJD. In this scenario almost all Congress voters had shifted to BJD and BJP.
Further, there were no coordinated efforts from the party level in absence of which the candidate had to fight as an individual against two organizations. Even the in-charge of the state and his assistant were mere visitors. In this scenario Congress candidate could not manage to fight with them and loosed it.
Saket Sreebhushan Sahu comments on culture and politics