With both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik making women electors pivotal in their policies and political strategy to win over this large loyal voter base, Odisha has seemingly reaped a rich dividend by emerging as the second State in the country to post a quantum rise in electoral gender ratio.
As per the Election Atlas released by the Election Commission of India today, with a quantum leap of 29 points, the elector gender ratio in Odisha has moved up to touch 951 from 922 in 2014. Andhra Pradesh topped the chart among major states by posting a jump of 31 points. However, if UTs are included, then Dadra and Nagar Haveli topped the chart, followed by Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (4th).
The Micro Picture
Though at the macro level, the State has posted a smart gain in elector gender ratio, the finer print lies in the micro picture. The four parliamentary constituencies of Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jajpur are among the 77 such constituencies in the country that has recorded growth of over 15 per cent in women elector participation in polls between the general elections of 2014 and 2019.
The demography of the three constituencies reveals that while Sambalpur has been a general constituency, Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jajpur are on the scheduled constituency list.
While in the 2014 elections, BJD had won the three parliamentary constituencies, in 2019, the BJP has wrested the Sambalpur seat from BJD. The Sambalpur LS seat winner has been Nitesh Ganga Deb, Sharmistha Sethy elected MP from Jajpur (SC), Manjulata Mandal and Chandani Murmu emerged victorious in Bhadrak(SC) and Keonjhar (ST), respectively.
Another five Lok Sabha constituencies - Nabarangpur, Berhampur, Kandhamal, Bargarh and Balangir - figure among the 119 districts in the country where the growth in the elector gender ratio has been around 12-15 per cent. Among the five parliament segments, 4 belong to general and only one has been a tribal constituency.
While ruling BJD has won three parliament segments of Nabarangpur, Berhampur and Kandhamal, the ruling party at the centre, BJP, has won two seats - Bargarh and Balangir, which it has wrested from the BJD.
As per the EC Atlas, only 9 constituencies in the State have been responsible for bringing a significant improvement in the elector gender ratio of Odisha. The elector demography equally divides the constituencies into 4 general to 4 scheduled seats.
A glance at the political demography indicates that while BJP has emerged victorious in 3 out of 4 general constituencies with a strike rate of 75 per cent, in the scheduled seats, the BJD romped home with a strike rate of 100 per cent.
The Capital Worry
When it comes to elector turnout in the 2019 elections, the State capital (Bhubaneswar parliamentary constituency) figures among a handful of 14 constituencies in the country where the voter turnout has been below 50 per cent. The EC Atlas shows Bhubaneswar is the only State capital in the country to hold this dubious distinction.