Bhubaneswar: With counting of votes just three days away, the two top contesting parties in Odisha – the BJD and the BJP – are waiting with bated breath. The exit polls have predicted BJP making huge inroads into the BJD bastion as far as Lok Sabha election is concerned. On the other hand, the same polls have predicted the return of Naveen Patnaik as Chief Minister for the fifth successive term to the Odisha Assembly.
Prior to the elections, BJP went out all guns blazing during campaigning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah made repeated visits to Odisha. Other top BJP leaders who campaigned for the party in the state were Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. It now looks, if the exit poll results are taken into consideration, their efforts have borne fruit.
Since the 2014 elections (both Lok Sabha and Assembly), BJP’s ascendency in Odisha has been noticeable. It did well in parts of western Odisha in the last three-tier panchayat elections. The saffron party’s rise was not lost on the BJD. To counter the wave, Naveen decided to contest from two Assembly segments this time – Bijepur and Hinjli. It may have worked for the party as far as Assembly polls are concerned, but not for the Lok Sabha elections.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJD had won 20 seats and the BJP one. This time if exit poll reports are to be believed, BJP will certainly increase its tally. Predictions are that BJP will win the Bhubaneswar, Puri, Keonjhar, Aska, Koraput, Sambalpur and Dhenkanal Lok Sabha constituencies. All these seats were won by the BJD in 2014.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJD had won 117 seats out of a possible 147 while the BJP had bagged 10. But this time around, that number may also increase for the BJP. Experts have said that BJP may wrest away the Boudh, Kandhamal, Badamba, Cuttack-Barbati, Basta, Jatni, Begunia, Brahmagiri Umerkote, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Chitrakonda, Sorada, Gopalpur, Chhatrapur, Parlakhemundi, Rayagada, Korei and Kendrapara seats from the BJD.
BJP leader Lekhashree Samantsinghar reacting to the exit polls said, “The forecast is going to be true. In Odisha, BJP will do better not only in Lok Sabha elections but also in Assembly polls. We may even form the government in Odisha.”
BJD leader Prasanna Acharya however, declined to comment on the exit poll predictions. He definitely portrayed nervousness to a great extent.
On the other hand, the Congress seemed to have slipped into oblivion. The party is not expected to open their account in the Lok Sabha and at the most win a few constituencies in the Assembly polls.
Congress leader Sarat Rout when asked about his views on the exit polls said ‘it is a shot in the dark’. The predictions for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and the 2015 Delhi and Bihar Assembly polls had all gone wrong. So it is better to wait till May 23,” said Rout.