The Pipili poll is done and dusted. BJD wins another coastal battle handsomely. Though none expected a shocker here, the eagle eyes were on the votes polled in the candidate's account.
After all, politics is a game of numbers. The numbers hold the future hint. Because, in politics, victory is never total, said eminent American playwright Donald Freed.
The Pipili Live
In the results declared today evening, BJD's Rudra Pratap Maharathy, late Pradeep Maharathy's son, polled a total of 96,972 votes vis-a-vis 76,056 votes by BJP candidate Ashrit Pattanayak.
The son has polled 8,454 more votes than his late father Pradeep Maharathy. His BJP rival has also witnessed a rise in the ballot box tally. Ashrit Pattanayak garnered 3,477 votes more in a span of little over 24-months.
The ballot box balance sheet shows the winner and runner ups have together gained a massive 11,931 votes, when the total votes polled in the bypoll is a mere 6195 more than the votes polled in 2019 Assembly elections.
The poll arithmetic drops big hint. While Son's vote-rise may be attributed to sympathy for the father, the rise in vote count of BJP shows a sort of consolidation of anti-BJD votes.
Beyond The Numbers
A look beyond the numbers tell a tale. The Odisha race course is now becoming a two horse race. Since 1991, Ram Mandir movement and Mandal agitation, Odisha had seen the rise of the three horse race in politics.
With the Indian National Congress in the driver seat then, post the Biju Patnaik era, BJD joined hands with BJP to make it a two horse race and prevent the splitting of opposition votes. The alliance politics tried in Odisha then was to duck the first past the post system that was then going in INC's favour.
After remaining for two consecutive terms, and after taking the steering seat securely, BJD broke the alliance with the BJP. As Congress was in power at Centre, and BJD seeing itself firmly entrenched in State politics, dropped BJP's hand to take advantage of split in opposition votes. In multiparty democracy, preventing consolidation of anti-ruling party votes has been a sureshot political strategy to win elections. And BJD played to the rules in 2009.
The Advent Of Modi
The saffron party which was in bewilderment post the ditch smarted up with the advent of PM Narendra Modi on to the battleground of Odisha. The BJP's one point agenda since 2014 was consolidating of anti BJD votes. In 2019 Parliamentary elections, the party tasted success in western Odisha.
The four bypolls held after 2019 general elections, mostly in the coastal land, shows the political strategy of BJP gaining strength.
In all the by-elections held after 2019 General Elections, vote count of the grand old party is simply falling brick by brick. Be it bypolls in Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Patkura or Pipilli, the vote share of the party is on free fall.
In 2019 Pipili polls, the vote share of INC was nearly 6 percent. The share in 2021 shrunk to 2.36 percent. The loss of votes to INC has been around 5,569.
The Bottom Line
The poll numbers show both BJD and BJP have together polled 11931 votes more in 2021 vis-a-vis 2019. Interestingly, the loss of INC votes and total new votes polled in the bypoll equal to 11,764. The BJP's vote gain shows no complete transfer of Congress votes (anti-BJD) to BJP.
In the current battle, therefore, BJD seems to have gained both ways - not only pocketed the new votes polled in the bypoll but also appropriated chunk of INC votes.
For BJP, the Pipili live message is besides consolidation, there is a big task to increase the vote base.