By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: With less than 24 hours to go for the EVMs to be unlocked leaders of almost all the major parties seem to be on the edge. Irrespective of the euphoria generated by the exit polls among the leaders of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) even they cannot be one hundred sure of what is going to happen tomorrow when votes will be counted.
As far as my assessment goes the most likely scenario for Odisha is a majority for Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the state assembly and nearly 11 seats for party in the Lok Sabha. The BJP, in all likelihood, should get 9 to 10 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress, if it gets lucky, could bag the Nabarangapur Lok Sabha seat. The contest on this seat is very keen between Congress and its two rivals, BJD and BJP. Congress candidate, Pradeep Majhi is very strong but that is what exactly may prove to be his undoing in the event of anti-BJP votes getting sharply divided between him and the BJD candidate, Ramesh Majhi. In that case BJP candidate, former MP, Balabhadra Majhi may win the seat.
This is also a possibility on the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat where BJP candidate and union minister, Jual Oram is locked in a triangular contest with BJD’s Sunita Biswal and Congress’s George Tirkey. Both Tirkey and Sunita are strong candidates, the former because of his support base among tribals and Christians and the latter because of the fact that she has the backing of chief minister, Naveen Patnaik. With two strong anti-BJP candidates the saffron candidate may scrape through as has happened in the past.
Another very interesting seat which is being keenly watched is Kendrapara. The seat has assumed special significance because former BJD MP, Baijayant Panda, once considered extremely close to chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, is contesting this time on a BJP ticket. Given his bitter fall-out with Patnaik the outcome on this seat is being eagerly awaited.
Here, too, the contest is triangular but Kendrapara is being widely seen as a proxy war between chief minister, Naveen Patnaik and Panda who happens to be the scion of one of the most influential families in the state. This being a grudge contest Patnaik took personal interest in campaigning here.
The strength of the Congress candidate in Kendrapara appeared to have been undermined by the fact that even a large number of Congressmen viewed it as virtually a direct fight between BJP and ruling BJD. The ruling party candidate, film actor-turned-politician, Anubhav Mohanty, despite his popularity as a movie star, was no match for Panda who had an excellent record as an MP and who also enjoys an excellent rapport with the masses.
But the fact of the matter is in Kendrapara it is not Anubhav versus Panda. The fight is actually between Panda and chief minister, Naveen Patnaik who is believed to have pulled out all stops to ensure his party’s victory. Whether he has been successful or not we will know by this time tomorrow.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)