Mrunal Manmay Dash

Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD’s) thumping win at Padampur bypoll has opened up the debate again for both the yay sayers and nay sayers of the party’s authority in Odisha.

As BJD candidate and late Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha’s daughter Barsha Singh Bariha defeated BJP’s Pradip Purohit with a margin of over 42,000 votes, the BJP went into introspection mode to ponder upon the causes behind their defeat.

However, if we look at the other side, the win by BJD, which suffered a massive loss in the recently concluded Dhamnagar bypoll, has several probable reasons.

Not committing the same mistake, the party Supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, himself campaigned for his candidate in Padampur physically. This move by Patnaik, to leverage his charismatic persona is said to be an important play that attracted voters.

This time around, both the senior and junior leaders of the BJD coordinated to make an iron-strong strategy to manage the election campaign.

As the seat belonged to the Western Odisha region, BJD leadership allowed its leaders from the same region take centre stage and vital roles in managing the campaign. The party seemed to have learnt from the Dhamnagar debacle where local leaders were allegedly sidelined to make space for the so-called celebrity leaders from neighboring districts.

campaigning strategy was made from the ground level in all 319 booths.

And last but not the least, State government rained assurances and projects on Padampur, which included Rs 488 crore package, assurances of making Padampur a separate district and upgrading Paikmal to an NAC. Apart from that, Naveen Patnaik also assured to establish a new electricity grid sub-station at Jharabandha, financial assistance for Kulta and Meher communities and input subsidy to the farmers.

Addressing a presser, senior BJD leader, Prasanna Acharya said, “We were with the people, and will remain with them forever. People believe in BJD and CM Naveen Patnaik’s promises. And all the party members including the MP, MLAs and Ministers executed the plan to near perfect.”

Similarly, Former Minister and BJD MLA, Sushant Singh said, “We executed our plans from ground zero. As long as Congress votes are concerned, they were equally divided between BJD and the BJP.”

While these are five most probable causes of BJD’s emphatic win in the Assembly seat, BJP’s loss in the by-election indicated some major lapses in poll management.

Padampur voters seemed to find it hard to believe the promises made by four Union Ministers and other top leaders of the BJP.

The anti-BJD slurs did not affect the voters neither any other strategy seemed to work for them.

The leaders and workers failed to execute plans laid out by the poll strategists on ground zero.

Some anti-party activities cannot be ruled out too.

And terming Barsha as anti-tribal seemed to have boomeranged at BJP too.

Following the defeat, BJP candidate Pradip Purohit said, “I accept the defeat. But I want Naveen Patnaik to keep all his promises he made to Padampur voters.”

Purohit alleged Minister Naba Das, who was earlier with the Congress party managed to divert all the Congress votes to the BJD.

Similarly, MP Aparajita Sarangi said, “After losing Dhamnagar, it was a fight of existence for the BJD. We however have to revisit our strategy. It is always a team work and we will introspect what went wrong in the election.”