Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 11:
The performance of the Congress and BJP in the just concluded Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) election has been nothing short of disastrous. While the Congress has lost its deposit in 92% of the wards it contested (57 out of 62), the BJP has done only marginally better losing its deposit in 46 out the 66 wards (70%) that it contested.
Together, the Congress and BJP, which managed to win just two and four out of the 67 wards in BMC respectively, had a combined vote share of just around 25 per cent, which is about the same as that polled by independent candidates.
While the vote share of both the parties has decreased since the last BMC polls, the BJP appears to have been the bigger loser than the Congress. The saffron party’s vote share dropped 8.5 per cent to settle at 15.14 per cent compared to 23.6 per cent in 2008 while the Congress recorded 10.13 per cent votes in this election, losing 2.4 per cent of its vote share of 12.5 per cent in 2008.
Not all the votes that the two principal opposition parties lost, however, appear to have gone to the BJD. The ruling party has been able to mop up 7.6% of the vote share shed by the two while independents have cornered the rest 3.3%.
The resounding defeat has fueled internal wrangling in both the national parties with dissidents sharpening their knives against their party top bosses. No wonder the party chiefs are avoiding holding of ‘introspection’ meetings in the name of ensuing elections.
The Congress has already deferred its state executive meeting twice in the last one month.
“We have failed to get the support of the people and we admit defeat. We need to do some serious introspection to strengthen the party,” said senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra. He, however, denied commenting on the need for a change of guard stating that a PCC president alone does not attract voters.
However, political analysts feel that the party is deeply divided and has lost its popularity among the voters. Besides, it has done precious little grassroots work to cash in on it in the urban elections.
It is to be noted that the party failed to field candidates in five wards while it lost its deposit in 57 out of the 62 wards it contested in the BMC elections, which accounts for a staggering 92 per cent.
“We need introspection on the poll debacle and have to take responsibility for the debacle. We need to improve a lot. If this situation continues, then anyone man can guess what will happen in future,” said former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
The BJP’s hope of to shoring up its fortunes by banking on the charisma of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has also been rudely dashed. Though the party had put up giant size posters of Modi and recited the Modi Mantra throughout the campaign, the much-touted Modi magic simply did not work for the party in BMC elections where it won just four of the 67 wards.
“We will analyse the results and see what went wrong,” said BJP national general secretary, Dharmendra Pradhan.
State BJP chief KV Singhdeo, however, sought to put up a brave face saying the Modi factor would work in favour of the party in the general elections.
However, some party leaders are not ready to buy the words of Singhdeo and have decided to corner the party leadership for getting the party into a mess.
The performance of the Congress and BJP eaves little doubt that two national parties have lost considerable ground, at least in urban areas, since the last election. And there is absolutely nothing to suggest that there would be a revival in their fortunes in the run up to the simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly in 2014.