It’s time to introspect, Naveen tells party members

Bhubaneswar: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s visible fall from 651 Zilla Parishad (ZP) zones in 2012 panchayat polls to 460 in 2017 has prompted party supremo Naveen Patnaik to ask the lawmakers and senior party leaders to introspect what led to the party’s poor show this rural polls which concluded on Tuesday.

Though a visibly shaken Patnaik told media that he will comment (on party’s performance) only after the official declaration of poll results on Saturday, it is learnt that he on Wednesday asked the party members to review what went wrong in the rural polls despite efforts to restore the party’s image at a time when the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was striving to make inroads.

“I will make my statement on 25 February when results of the panchayat election will be declared officially,” Patnaik told reporters at the secretariat here.

However party insiders said, in a meeting convened to review the poll results, the CM ‘reprimanded’ some senior party members including lawmakers for the party’s complete rejection by voters.

“The chief minister said he is not happy with the MLAs in whose constituencies the poll results have gone against the party…The CM will definitely review the situation once the results are declared by the State Election Commission…Then only he may take any action,” BJD vice president and Excise minister Damodar Rout said.

While some poll pundits attributed the ruling party’s poll debacle to its ‘over confidence’, others blamed Naveen for poor poll management. But the party seniors have a different tale to tell.

“The poor show of BJD is due to multiple candidates contesting for the same post in many panchayats…He (Naveen) has asked not to demoralise and continue the good works as the government has been doing in the past…In this way we can further strengthen our party organisation,” senior BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra maintained.

Of the total 848 ZP seats polled, BJP claims to have bagged 306 seats – an increase of 8.5 times as compared with its tally of just 36 seats in 2012. It has added 270 seats to its previous tally. On the other hand, ruling BJD has won 460 seats as against its victory on 651 seats in 2012, losing 191. Congress has bagged just 66 seats against the 126 in the previous elections, losing 60.