The Bharatiya Janata Party swept the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha on Tuesday by defeating the Biju Janata Dal which was in power in the State for the past 24 years.

The BJD crumbled in the face of the BJP’s high-voltage campaign against septuagenarian Patnaik and his close aide and party leader VK Pandian by taking up the issue of Odia pride. The anti-incumbency against the government also contributed towards its failure.

The saffron party also made Patnaik’s health conditions an election issue and questioned the emergence of Pandian in the BJD set-up causing anger among the people at large. The party also promised an Odia Chief Minister. Pandian, a Tamil by birth, who is married to an Odia IAS officer, had quit the IAS and joined the BJD a few months ago.

PM Narendra Modi led the BJP’s campaign supported by Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and many other leaders of the party from other States. The party carried out a carpet bombing campaign as the polling was held in four phases in the State.

In contrast, the BJD was found struggling with both Patnaik and Pandian campaigning with no other party leader accompanying them during their tours to different regions of the State. Patnaik’s counter to the BJP’s attacks that Pandian was not his successor and that he was in good health failed to convince the voters.

The BJP concentrated in Odisha to compensate for the losses it feared elsewhere after its talks to forge a pre-poll alliance with the BJD failed ahead of the twin polls.

In his first election rally at Berhampur after announcement of the poll schedule, Modi had expressed confidence that the BJP will form the next government in Odisha and invited people to the swearing-in ceremony of a BJP Chief Minister at Bhubaneswar on June 10. He continued similar attacks against the BJD government, Patnaik and Pandian, by raking up different issues at all public meetings and kept inviting the people to their swearing-in ceremony.

Parting ways

The BJD and the BJP, which ruled Odisha as alliance partners for nine years and parted company before the 2009 elections, had a friendly relationship in the aftermath of the 2019 elections, when the regional party supported the Modi government in Parliament on various issues. The BJD had also supported BJP candidate Ashwini Vaishnaw in the Rajya Sabha elections in the State for the second time in February this year.

By 6 pm on Tuesday, the BJP was leading in 19 of the total 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State. The party had also won nine Assembly seats and was leading in another 71 of the total of 147 Assembly seats making it clear that it would form the next government in the State dashing the BJD’s hopes to ensure a sixth consecutive term for Naveen Patnaik as Chief Minister.

The BJD was leading in just one LS seat. It had won two Assembly seat and was leading in another 47 seats after suffering heavy losses across the State, including its strongholds. The Congress finished third in the race. It was leading in one LS seat, while winning one Assembly seat and leading in another 13 seats.

In the simultaneous election held in 2019, the BJD had bagged 12 LS and 112 Assembly seats, while the BJP had won eight LS and 23 Assembly seats and the Congress had won one LS and nine Assembly seats.