Pradeep Pattanayak

The result of the recently concluded urban body elections, which witnessed several heavyweights of all major political parties fail to retain their castles, has already set the discussions in motion on whether it will have any impact on the general elections in two years time. 

In the municipal elections, the BJD, BJP and Congress have secured 73, 16 and seven municipality chairman posts respectively. Independent candidates have won nine seats. In terms of vote percentage, the BJD has bagged 48 percent vote share, followed by the BJP (29 percent) and the Congress (12 percent). 

In case of councillor posts, the vote share percentages of the BJD, BJP and Congress are 50, 27 and 12 percents respectively. 
It indicates that, the BJP has received two percent more votes in chairperson votes than councillor votes. Similarly, BJD’s vote share in councillor votes is two percent more than that of chairperson votes. 

The poll verdict has now spurred the political parties to begin introspection on what worked in their favour and what went wrong. 

The most important factor that has emerged from the urban polls is that most heavyweights miserably failed to retain their bastions.

Speaker Surya Narayan Patro, Minister Dibyashankar Mishra, Tukuni Sahu, Sushant Singh, Naba Das and government’s Deputy Chief Whip Rohit Pujari failed to guard their castles. Similarly, MLAs like Prashant Muduli, Sanjib Mallick, Sudhir Samal and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik also had to face setbacks. 

In Angul, the constituency of Deputy Speaker Rajani Kant Singh, BJD bagged the chairman post but the BJP has the majority in the municipal council. 

Similarly, the BJP has managed to win the Chairman posts to Kodala, Rambha and Chhatrapur municipalities in Ganjam district, which were regarded as the BJD’s strongholds till last elections. 

In the BJP camp, Union Minister Biseshwar Tudu, MP Aparajita Sarangi, Pratap Sarangi, K V Singh Deo, Basant Panda, Prithiviraj Harichandan and Monmahan Samal are the leaders who also had to face jolts in the elections. 

Congress leaders like Narasingha Mishra, Bhakta Das, Suresh Routray and Mohammed Moquim also failed to put up the performance as expected. 

The poll post-mortem meanwhile has triggered mudslinging between the leaders of all parties. 

“BJD won the elections because it misused government employees to distribute money and ask voters to cast their franchise for the ruling party. Musclemen too were employed to intimidate voters,” alleged senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra.

Prithiviraj Harichandan had something similar to share. “All of us know how the government used money power and the machinery to garner votes. Violence incidents in line of West Bengal were reported. But the result trends show that BJD's days are numbered,” Harichandan said. 

BJD MLA Prashant Muduli however said, “If the pattern of votes is taken into consideration, it is clear that people across the State are in favour of the BJD. Our party’s performance was not up to the mark in some areas due to some reasons including over confidence and management issues.”

However, political analysts opine that in case of urban polls, voters have developed a discontent against the local elected people’s representatives. 

“People are not happy with the leaders due to long list of unresolved local issues mostly due to inaction of the people's representatives and administrative apathy. This reflects in elections,” said senior journalist K Ravi. 

It is widely being discussed that the results of Panchayat and Urban elections will go a long way in shaping the political career of many, particularly in the BJD as a cabinet reshuffle is expected ahead. 

However, it remains to be seen as to how the present political scenario unfolds to make way for the 2024 general elections.