Bhubaneswar: The BJD steamrolled to victory in Odisha’s Padampur bypoll, after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unleashed his charisma on the tribal-dominated constituency by personally going down to campaign for his party’s rookie candidate Barsha Singh Bariha, who won the electoral battle against BJP’s Pradip Purohit by 42,679 votes.
Though Patnaik had refrained from physical campaigning in by-polls since 2019, he made an exception this time after opposition BJP managed to wrest the recent by-election to the Dhamnagar constituency.
After the end of the 23rd round of counting, Bariha polled a total of 1,20,807 votes, while Purohit secured 78,128 votes, the Election Commission said. Congress candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu got 3,594 votes.
Barsha is the daughter of late BJD MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, whose death in October necessitated the by-poll.
Patnaik spoke to Barsha over telephone and congratulated her for the “spectacular“ victory, a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said.
There were 10 candidates were in fray for the December 5 by-poll.
The BJD won the Padampur assembly seat for the second consecutive time, after Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha had emerged victorious in 2019. The ruling party secured nearly 17.29 per cent more votes than what it did in 2019, when its vote share was 41 per cent.
An overwhelmed Barsha thanked Patnaik, who is also the BJD president, for campaigning for her, asserting that it proved to be a “game changer”.
“Thanks to our CM and the people of Padampur. My late father’s goodwill was also a factor that worked in favour of the BJD in the by-poll,” the 29-year-old law graduate said.
Jubilant BJD supporters erupted into euphoric celebrations in Padampur and at the party office in Bhubaneswar, while the BJP state headquarters wore a deserted look following the election result.
The BJP said it willl introspect on the reasons behind its defeat in Padampur.
“Her victory is unexpected. A large chunk of Congress votes has shifted to the BJD. I accept the verdict of the people with humility,” Purohit told reporters.
Odisha’s BJP face and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who had extensively campaigned in Padampur, also took to Twitter to congratulate Barsha.
“We respect the people’s mandate. My heartiest thanks to all who voted for BJP. We will try to further strengthen the party in the coming days through welfare initiatives and public relations. Best wishes to the victorious candidate” he said.