While BJP choose the political strategy of putting eggs in 'popular' basket, the picking of a sitting RS MP shows a safe play by BJD
Stung by the Naveen Patnaik charisma in the recently concluded three-tier Panchayat polls, the Odisha BJP seems to have made a shrewd political move in the upcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections, especially for the mayoral race in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Staving itself off from playing the deja vu tune - putting conventional type politicians for the direct mayoral race in the State, especially Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the State BJP tries to begin with a clean slate in the ULB polls.
Adopting the political strategy of putting eggs in the basket of popularity, the saffron party has made a popular face its horse in the race for the mayor of Cuttack. The Party has chosen Odia film actor-cum-social worker Sritam Das as its Mayor candidate.
Actor Sritam will have to fight it out mainly with BJD's Rajya Sabha MP Subash Singh, though Congress candidate Giribala Behera has a good stake in the fray.
Why BJP Zeroed In On Sritam?
An analysis of the 2019 Lok Sabha and State Assembly poll results unravelled BJP's strategy behind going the clean and popular way.
Consider this. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party had pitted former Odisha DGP and IPS officer Prakash Mishra against BJD's veteran warhorse Bhartruhari Mahtab. And as per the analysis of the voting pattern in the polls, BJP had a lead of over 17000 votes in 25 Wards in Cuttack city.
Similarly, in another 19 odd Wards, the total lead established by BJP over BJD was around 12000 votes. The BJD, however, had a lead of over 10000 - 15000 votes in the other Wards.
The above data shows if the trend of voting on March 24 follows the 2019 Lok Sabha pattern, then BJP could pull the rug under the ruling BJD's feet in Cuttack.
However, the success in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was attributed to the clean image of former top cop Prakash Mishra and the towering Modi tsunami.
But the analysis also amplifies the big role of the 'clean factor' in the elections. Here is how it makes it clear.
In the 2019 Assembly elections, votes were cast on the same day. While in Lok Sabha, the BJP candidate led by a handsome margin in the Cuttack Municipal City limits, the same voting pattern turned turtle in the polling for Assembly seat.
The typical BJP politicians were contesting the seats falling under the CMC limits. And BJP had fallen behind Congress and BJD by a huge margin in a majority of the Wards in Cuttack city. The party's vote share took a beating.
The trailing by BJP in Cuttack city by a big margin clearly hints at the city denizens' stamp of approval for clean candidates. Moreover, BJP had repeated the deja vu tune then by giving tickets to candidates who have lost the elections since 2009.
Taking a political cue from here, the State BJP has put its bet on clean and popular candidate Sritam Das to repeat the 2019 Lok Sabha results.
The Bottom Line
It's a pot-boiler to watch in Cuttack. Though the Modi factor will not blow Sritam way directly, as it is an urban area, an incipient Modi wave will come to the BJP's aid. As a consequence, the BJD has to rework its strategy. The Mayor's race is not going to be a cakewalk for the party.
As per political observers, the picking of Subash Singh, a sitting RS MP, by CM Naveen Patnaik for the Mayor race shows that the ruling BJD is also playing safe in the poll gambit.