Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 9:
With less than 24 hours left for balloting to begin across 10 Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly seats in Odisha, political parties and candidates- caught between hope and despair – are keeping their fingers crossed.
The leaders of all the three major political parties- BJD, Congress and BJP- may have been boasting in public about about doing far better this time than ever before but privately they tell you they are not one bit sure about how the voters are going to behave.
The election managers of the ruling BJD are a worried lot. A senior leader told OST that things are not encouraging at the ground level. Secondly, they feel the administrative machinery including the police has not been quite ‘helpful’ as they were in 2009.
“ Even in Ganjam which is believed to be the stronghold of the party, there are fissures everywhere and the electoral arithmetic could go against us at a number of places due to anti-incumbency factors, rebels and unenthusiastic workers,” the leader said.
The BJD leader also conceded that the whirlwind campaigning by the party’s sole vote-catcher and star campaigner Naveen Patnaik has had negligible impact.
“ He lacks oratorical skills and merely reads out speeches typed in Roman. People understand little of what he is trying to say although his speeches are supposed to be in Odia. All senior leaders are busy defending their own forts and film stars are of little consequence to the voters. We have spent a lot of money on publicity and that we hope will have some impact on voters but that can not be the gamechanger” the ruling party leader said.
The Congress is hopeful of doing well both in southern and western Odisha due to a number of factors including the rise in BJP vote share which they believe will affect the ruling party much more than them.
While the workers and local leaders of the BJP are in an upbeat mood, the state level leaders are not too sure whether the so-called Modi wave is going to work for their candidates. They also concede the Congress will benefit by default at many places where there is a triangular fight. However, they insist the party will do exceedingly well in the Lok Sabha elections because of the Modi factor.
In 2009 the party had failed to open its account.
“ This time we will come up with surprising results and prove all the pollsters wrong.” a senior party strategist told OST over phone.
The focus is now on getting the party supporters and sympathizers to the booths on Thursday.
“No matter how much support you think you command in your constituency, everything would depend on whether you are able to mobilize voters on the balloting day, “ a veteran Congress leader said.