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Odisha BJP ponders what went wrong

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, May 18:

Even though the vote share of BJP increased marginally in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha- thanks to the Modi wave- party leaders feel the results are  a wake up call for the party to strengthen its base at the grassroots level, if it wishes to emerge as a formidable political force in the state.

The party, which could not translate the ‘Modi wave’ into votes due to serious shortcomings in its organizational network, has even failed to open its account in as many as 21 out of the 30 districts in the Assembly polls, results of which were announced on Friday.bjp logo

The BJP, which managed to win only the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat, was in second position in 9 other Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha. The vote share of BJP mounted to 21.5 per cent from 16.89 per cent garnered in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. However, it has able to increase only one per cent vote share in Assembly polls.

The party has come second in 35 Assembly seats while losing 13 of them by a margin of below 10,000. However, the party has lost five out of the seven seats, that it had acquired in 2009 elections.

While the Modi mania swept across the country giving the BJP a clear mandate to govern India single-handed, the state unit of the saffron party could do little to restrain the ruling BJD from registering a landslide victory.

However, the only consolation for the BJP was that it got 10 assembly seats, four (effectively three ) more than 2009, and one LS seat against zero last time. Out of the 10 BJP candidates who have been elected to the 15th Assembly, three are new faces.

They are Pradip Purohit, Radharani Panda and Gobinda Chandra Das.

Purohit, a first timer, defeated former Minister Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha of the BJD from Padmapur Assembly constituency in Bargarh district by a margin of 4,513 votes.

Gobinda Chandra Das, another new face, was elected from Remuna by defeating the sitting MLA Sudarsan Jena of the BJD.

The lone woman member of BJP legislature party Radharani Panda defeated a four-time MLA Anup Sai of the BJD from Brajrajnagar in Jharsuguda district. She had lost to Sai four times earlier. Sai, who was elected to the House four times on Congress ticket, quit the party and joined the ruling BJD along with former leader of opposition Bhupindar Singh just before the elections.

However, the party is still trying to trace the real causes behind their poor show at the husting.  The senior party leaders, who were ‘confident’ of winning  more than seven seats in Lok Sabha and increasing the their assembly seats up to 35, are now at a loss to explain what actually went wrong.

Was it mere speculation, or a very poor understanding of the ground realities that misled them into boastful claims ? That is what the party now needs to find out, said a senior political observer.

“Even though there was a Modi wave across the state, we could not capitalize on the favourable situation due to organizational weakness. We have to work hard to build a strong organization starting from grassroots level that will help us not only in the coming elections but also give us the necessary clout to deal with the BJD government,” said Suresh Pujari, who lost the Lok Sabha election from the Sambalpur seat.