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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: While BJP got its calculations wrong, Congress was seen nowhere in the race as BJD clinched a landslide victory in Bijepur by-election, leaving Naveen Patnaik's undefeated record intact.

It can now be safely said that that luring former MLA Subal Sahu's widow Rita Sahu to the party and later fielding her as the party candidate for the by-election played a pivotal role in clinching victory for BJD. Sources said sympathy votes in case of Rita Sahu were crucial in cornering her nearest candidate Ashok Panigrahi of BJP.

Secondly, election management of the ruling party at grassroots level is stated to be another key. Beginning from top leaders to panchayat level cadres all were involved.

Besides, the two-day Bijepur tour of the BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his massive campaigning drive are also believed to have worked in favour of the ruling party. Moreover, the shoe attack on CM at Kumbhari in Barpali and Banabira firing incident also swayed support in favour of BJD.

During the build-up to the by-election, the BJD-led government also went all out to strengthen its base in the Congress stronghold Bijepur by announcing welfare projects and sanctioning funds.

The leaders, however, have given all credit to the clean image and popularity of party chief Naveen Patnaik.

On the other hand, the debacle in Bijepur bypoll has come as a severe jolt to BJP's Mission 120 though the saffron party rose to second position jostling Congress.

It is also said that party candidate Ashok Panigrahi was not acceptable to leaders and workers of the party at grassroots level.

"We honestly accept the people's mandate and thank the people of Bijepur for voting for party in increased numbers compared to earlier polls. It is time for introspection," State BJP president, Basant Panda said.

For Congress, the intra-party squabble and delay in selection of candidate are believed to be the major reasons behind the dismal performance. This apart, the leaders openly have cited fund crunch to be the cause of party’s downfall.

"Our votes got diverted to BJP and BJD due to lack of funds. The party didn't provide any financial assistance to the candidates for contesting the election," Congress candidate Pranay Sahu said.

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