Pradeep Pattanayak

In the recently concluded Jharsuguda bypoll, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) secured five percent more votes than it got in the 2019 general elections. Similarly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) garnered three percent more votes than it secured in the said general elections. 

Close inspection of the trend reveals that be it the Padampur bypoll or the Jharsuguda by-election, Congress votes are getting divided. It has been discussed that the votes the BJD would have had to lose because of the infighting and other issues have been compensated by the Congress votes. As it has transpired, the BJP has started drawing out strategies to check the Congress votes going to the BJD. And for the Congress, it has emerged as a big challenge for the grand old party to keep its vote share intact. 

“Because the votes of the Congress party are being diverted to the BJD, the latter has survived,” said BJP leader Pradeep Purohit. 

On this point, senior Congress leader Suresh Routray said, “In the just concluded bypoll, the majority of our votes went to the BJD and some votes went to the BJP. We were not able to check our votes.”

Responding to the allegation, Revenue Minister Pramila Mallick said, “In 2019 general elections, the Congress votes went to the BJP. And they (the Congress) are not able to get back their votes. But the BJD’s vote share has remained the same as it was in 2019.”

The present trend has given rise to several questions. They are: Why the Congress candidates are losing their deposits in elections? How the BJD is getting more Congress votes? Are the Congress leaders knowingly diverting the votes? Is infighting in the grand old party a reason?

“The BJP is still the main Opposition party in Odisha. It has once again proved in the Jharsuguda bypoll. But the Congress has not been able to replace the BJP from the second position. For the Congress, it is a very difficult phase. The Congress has lost its attraction power. It has become bipolar politics. And the BJP is happy with it. They are not so much worried for the debacle they suffered in the Jharsuguda bypoll,” observed political analyst Rabi Das.

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