Himansu Shekhar Rout

If an opinion survey done by TIMES NOW is taken into consideration, Odisha seems to be heading for a saffron surge and surpassing the tally of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. 

The TIMES NOW poll has projected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to win 11 out of a total of 21 Lok Sabha seats while the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is estimated to bag nine seats and Congress has to settle with one seat. However, it was predicted that the BJD would be the single largest party in Odisha.

The survey also claimed that the BJP will grab 44.8 per cent vote share, while the BJD’s vote share will be 40.4 per cent in the Lok Sabha election and that of Congress 9.6 per cent. 

The BJP is sanguine of having more LS and Assembly seats as projected by the survey. However, the BJD and the Congress refused to accept the survey results.    

The survey has claimed that the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has nosedived as 43 per cent of the respondents are not happy with his performance. About 24 percent of respondents are very satisfied with his governance and 31 percent are somewhat satisfied.   

A day after the opinion survey, political mercury soared amid statements from political parties.

BJP MP Suresh Pujari sounded confident of BJP’s electoral performance, asserting that there is a huge difference between the exit and exact polls. He said, “One can say by assessing the current political scenario in the country and Odisha that it is favourably tilted towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP will get more seats than the BJD in the Lok Sabha elections and have a thumping majority in the Assembly to form the government.”      

Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka claimed that Congress’ position is strong. “After Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra that passed through Odisha, the ground situation will further change. We hope we will perform better this time. We will win more seats than projected by the survey,” he added.

However, the BJD refused to buy the opinion survey. BJD MLA Sambit Routray said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP will have no impact in Odisha. What will make a difference are Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Jagannath culture. No other thing will come into play. We are least worried about what TIMES NOW says. All will see how the Chief Minister and the BJD will come out with flying colours in the upcoming elections.”    

It is said that the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is growing in Odisha because of the NDA’s welfare schemes while the popularity of the ruling BJD is declining due to its long reign.  

There are reasons for the decline of the BJD government’s popularity. The government is mired in a number of controversies linked to the Srimandir Parikrama project, Arpan Raths, alleged fouling of the academic environs in colleges due to the Nua-O programme and alleged snub to people’s representatives in the Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha scheme. 

Besides, experts believe that an anti-incumbency factor is said to be active because of several scams, irregularities, corruption at the official level and deprivation of eligible beneficiaries under various schemes.   

Also Read: General Elections 2024: ECI team to review poll preparedness in Odisha from Feb 15-17

Earlier, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asserted that the BJP will grab over 45 per cent vote share and register its win in 15 Lok Sabha seats. 

Senior journalist K Rabi said, “If the BJP grows and its base organisation is existent in all constituencies, the Modi factor as claimed by the BJP will have an impact in Assembly elections.”

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