Bhubaneswar: With the dates of 2019 general elections declared, will anti-incumbency play a decisive role in Odisha? Was this the reason that the incumbent BJD launched a dozen schemes ranging from KALIA, PEETHA, SHG sops to Ama Gaon, Ama Bikas only a year prior to elections? It seems the BJD took Aristophanes’ words way too seriously to tide over 2019 polls.
Significantly, CM Naveen Patnaik's fourth term has seen many a speed-breakers like rise in POCSO cases, including the infamous 'Kunduli' gangrape, political violence, poor procurement, large-scale farmer suicides in 2015, Chakada tragedy later that propelled Odisha to national headlines, serial infant deaths in Cuttack Sishu Bhawan and Malkangiri, the notorious case of Dana Majhi, drinking water crisis in villages in summer et al. And many of these disorganised the poll ‘chemistry’ and 'arithmetic' of the BJD to an extent that it yielded large ground to BJP in 2017 rural polls.
Jolted BJD, though, didn't bring any sweeping changes in the criminal jurisprudence system of the State to curb the rising sexual crimes in Odisha or effected any major overhaul in health/water indices, but certainly found alternative ways to woo the voters. The schemes were tailor-made for 'specific groups' to rekindle the poll 'chemistry' of BJD supremo and ‘poster boy’ Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Interestingly, election outcomes are an aggregated opinion of the disaggregated social groups or sections. And when issues affecting disaggregated sections in an aggregated way mount up, the ‘chemistry’ for a political party does stand affected irreversibly. For this, BJD's tailor-made a-day-a-scheme for the 'disaggregated' groups was a clever political ploy to paper over the faultlines in law and order or poor health/water indices.
However, the 2019 Odisha elections hold an interesting watch out case as the battle would be between 'State schemes' and 'Centre schemes'. Especially, when BJD's bread and butter scheme of previous polls - the ‘Re 1 rice’ scheme - has been blunted by BJP to a large extent by highlighting how Centre funds the scheme in a big way.
In 2019 elections, the fight will be between KALIA scheme and PM-KISAN, BJD government's SHG sops vs the Ujjwala Yojana, Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana vs PM AWAS Yojana, Biju Swasthya Yojana vs Ayushman Yojana and many more.
Not to be left behind in fight between 'scheme' and 'scheme', Congress jumped into the fray with ‘promised-schemes’ lists like farm loan-waiver, marriage kit, bonus scheme for farmers et al.