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Rashmi Ranjan

Though the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) registered a thumping victory in the recently concluded Urban Local Body (ULB) polls, political analysts view that the mood of the urban voters, rebel BJD candidates and confusion in ticket distribution might have hindered BJD in recording a clean sweep.

In the case of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), BJP’s mayoral candidate Suniti Mund has secured more than 1.14 lakh votes and with many BJD candidates losing the political battle in their own bastion, pundits believe that the dissenters within the ruling party might have split voted due to the direct election to the Mayor posts. Apart from that, mix-ups in corporator tickets distribution together seemed to have helped BJP to increase its vote share.

According to poll data, BJD suffered defeat in highest eight wards in Ekamra Assembly Constituency which is the seat of minister Ashok Panda. While BJP has won in four seats, the BJD rebels have bagged four seats in the Minister’ own soil.

Similarly, in MLA Ananta Narayan Jena’s segment, BJD lost in five out of the 19 wards. Of these five wards, BJP won in three seats while independent candidates bagged two seats. Likewise, in Bhubaneswar north constituency belonging to BJD MLA Sushant Rout, BJP and independent candidate registered victory in three seats each.

On the other hand, BJP witnessed an improvement in its performance with the party winning 10 corporator posts as compared to 4 in the last urban elections to Bhubaneswar. However, Congress failed to win even a single seat in the polls.

Expressing gratitude towards the public support despite losing out on the Mayor post, BJP MP from Bhubaneswar Aparajita Sarangi thanked the voters of Bhubaneswar for showing trust in the saffron party and supporting the party candidates in the ULB polls.

“We have not performed well in the urban elections and I accept our defeat. I think we need to further strengthen our state leadership. Besides, we need to strengthen our party from grassroot-level to top leadership,” said Sarangi.

However, in his defence, Science and Technology minister Ashok Panda said, “Our party has won 38 coporator seats and the Mayor candidates performed exceptionally well. In my constituency, BJP and Independent candidates have won four seats each. But it will not affect us in any way."

Commenting on party’s performance, senior Congress leader Sura Routray said, “There are many problems with the party. We will review and work on them.”

In Silver City Cuttack, Congress gave a tough fight to BJD in the race to the Mayor post. Of the 59 corporator seats, BJD won in 38 followed by Congress (8), BJP (7) and Independents (6). However, BJP’s vote share increased to seven seats as compared to four in last municipal elections.

Debashish Samantaray, Cuttack BJD president claimed to have initiated talks with several Independent candidates for a switch over to the BJD fold. “We have worked hard to ensure the victory of our candidates. Many independents who have won are in talks with us to join our party,” said Samantaray.

“I will dedicate this victory to the voters of my ward. I will join BJD only if my voters want. But before joining BJD, I will ask them about what they have for my ward,” said Bikash Behera, an independent corporator.

Congress leader Suresh Mohapatra accepted the party's poor show in the elections and assured to sit down and review the performance. “We were not less than others. But, we will brainstorm what lead to our dismal performance in the elections."

In Silk City Berhampur, the BJD has won 30 corporator seats while the BJP candidates won 7 seats followed by Independents (4) and Congress (1).

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