Rashmi Ranjan

The BJP, riding on a sympathy wave for its candidate, the son of the party’s deceased leader, and helped by a division of BJD votes on account of a rebel, coasted to a clear victory in the by-election to the estuarine Dhamnagar constituency of Odisha on Sunday.

However, the saffron party has attributed the win to the successful implementation of 3M formula during the polls.

Sharing more information about the strategy that did the magic for the BJP, its senior leader Manmohan Samal said, “We emerged victorious by using 3M formula- Money, Minority and Managing women voters.”

“BJD tried to mislead the minorities and used money power to register a victory but in vain. The voter opted to supported us. Neither we took BJD lightly nor over-estimated us which helped us to retain Dhamnagar,” Samal added.

BJP candidate Suryabanshi Suraj, son of late party MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi, defeated his nearest BJD rival Abanti Das by 9,881 votes. While Suraj secured 80,351 votes, Das got 70,470 votes, according to the Election Commission.

The BJP won the by-election by 9,881 votes, more than double compared to its margin of 4,625 votes in the 2019 assembly polls, while its vote share increased from 47.47 per cent to 49.1 per cent.

The ruling BJD which did not field Rajendra Das, its 2019 candidate, at the constituency in Bhadrak district saw its vote share decline to 43.1 per cent this time from 45.67 per cent three years ago.

Das who had secured 75,486 votes in 2019 contested as an independent candidate this time and bagged 8,153 votes, according to the Election Commission data.

Adding the votes polled for BJD’s official nominee Abanti Das (70,470) and its rebel candidate Rajendra Das (8,153), one gets 78,623 votes, a figure close to what the BJP’s Suryabanshi Suraj secured - 80,351 votes.

The death of Suraj’s father, BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi, necessitated the by-election. Sethi bagged 80,111 votes to defeat Rajendra Das in 2019.

Suraj, a greenhorn in electoral politics, apparently got a portion of Congress votes too. The party’s nominee Baba Harekrushna Sethi got only 3,561 votes, a mere 2.18 per cent of the total votes polled. Its candidate Bidyadhar Jena had secured 7,303 three years back. However, both lost their deposits.

Another independent candidate Pabitra Mohan Das bagged 497 votes (0.3 per cent) while a total of 650 voters opted for NOTA.

Commenting on BJD’s performance, party chief and CM Naveen Patnaik said, “We have lost very few by-elections. I always respect the verdict of the people. MLA Bishnu Sethi died recently and he was quite popular. BJP held the seat for a number of years. His son was given the ticket. It was expected that they would win.”

Taking to Twitter Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan thanked the voters of Dhamnagar and wrote, "It is also the victory of youth and women. Gratitude to the people of Dhamnagar for reposing their faith in BJP, for honouring the legacy of Late Biishnu Bhai and for blessing Suraj."

Suraj said he is overwhelmed by the love and affection given to him by the people of Dhamnagar. “Now this victory has brought a challenge to develop Dhamnagar,” he said.

The win is likely to boost party workers to fight the BJD before another by-poll in the Padmapur constituency slated for December 5 and the assembly elections due in 2024.

(With agency inputs)