Bhubaneswar: Speculations are rife over the outcome of the Bijepur by-elections, the result of which would be declared on Wednesday.
Even though it appears to be a close contest between the ruling BJD and the rival BJP, voting equations indicates that the BJD would win the by-elections wide margin. The margin is expected to be between 15,000 to 20,000. The BJP and the Congress would share the votes equally.
As the total polling is a little over 82%, over 1.81 lakh voters have cast their franchise in the poll.
In 2014 elections, the Congress’ Subal Sahu got 53,290 votes and BJD’s Prasanna Acharya 52,832. Jaishankar Patnaik of BJP had polled 30,001 votes. BJD rebel Ashok Panigrahi had got 18,232 votes as an independent candidate. The total votes polled in 2014 was 1,65,436.
Given the 2014 vote % of 31.88%, BJD will get 57,920 votes, Congress with 32.15% will get 58,825 and BJP with 18% will garner 32,580 votes.
But, the political equation in the constituency has changed drastically. That Subal Sahu is not the Congress candidate is a major change in the political scenario in the last one and half decades. That his widow wife Rita Sahu has joined BJD and become its candidate has changed the equation against Congress and in favour of BJD. With BJP getting 92,000 votes in the Zilla Parisad elections, the morale of the party is high. The fact that the saffron party is in power at the Centre makes lot of difference this time.
There are now 13 candidates in the fray this time. If the 10 candidates polled on an average 1000-2000 votes each, they would take away 15,000 votes. This would leave 1,65,000 votes to be shared by the three prominent parties.
The Bijepur by-poll voting pattern is likely to be BJD vs. Others. In that case, the BJD will certainly have an advantage as the anti-BJD votes would be divided among the two major opposition parties BJP and the Congress. In fact, the all out effort of BJP to make it a straight fight between BJD and BJP filed because of the candidature of Pranaya Sahoo. The organizational skill, popularity in the constituency of Pranaya Sahoo and the caste factor may bring about 30,000 to 40,000 votes for the Congress. Thus, the BJP will enable to get about 50,000 to 60,000 votes.
Bijepur become a fortress of Congress for the last 15 years. And, before that it was either Congress or Biju Patnaik’s Janata Party/ Janata Dal/ BJD which shared the seat. The rise of BJP is a recent phenomenon. Even when the Modi Sunami was blowing across the country, the BJP had satisfy itself with 30,000 votes only.
Will the Saffron party would repeat its Zilla Parisad feat. Voting in assembly election is different from voting in Panchyat elections. While the real fight in the rural elections is for Sarpanch, Ward Member and Panchayat Samiti Member, the Zilla Parisad elections are not taken seriously by the voters. Since, the Zilla Parisad elections are fought on party symbols, it create a perception of popular support.
Over 90,000 voters have voted for BJP in the Zilla Parisad elections. Many of them also voted for BJD and Congress supported Sarpanch, Panchyat Samiti member and Ward Member candidates in the elections. Now, voters are have to make a choice either for BJD, BJP or Congress, whom do they will vote?
The ruling BJD, on the other hand, will win this election with about 70,000 to 80,000 votes.
The BJD’s vote share is expected to increase this time. The factors:
1.The party started well ahead of others.
2. The chief minister announced a package for the constitutency.
3.Rita Sahu’s candidature virtually divided the sympathy votes which would have gone to Congress.
4. Narayan Sahu’s jointing BJD became a big blow to the BJP.
5. BJD employed election managers in large number in the constituency.
6. It matched the resources of the BJP.
The biggest factor that would catapulted the BJD to victory is the electioneering by the party supremo Naveen Patnaik. Naveen Patnaik’s two day campaign in the constituency had tremendous impact on the voters.
The hurling of shoes at him, must have increased the votes in favour of the ruling party. When Indira Gandhi was pelted stones at Bhubaneswar in 1967 Lok Sabha electioneering, the then editor of Hindustan Times HK Dua had written,” A stone cost opposition a million votes”.
It may noted here that last time, Bijepur was the only assembly constituency where Naveen had not campaigned personally. And the popular belief is that had Naveen campaigned for Prasanna Acharya, he would have won the elections. Acharya had lost the elections by a wafer thin margin of 458 votes only.