The Two ‘Ps’ Behind BJP’s Landslide Win In Odisha: Pandian And Poverty

Jaideep Mazumdar

Jun 04, 2024, 06:05 PM | Updated Jun 06, 2024, 08:42 PM IST


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has posted a stunning performance in Odisha and surpassed even its own expectations in the state. Not only has the party won 19 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, it is also going to form the next government in the state.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) headed by Naveen Patnaik which has ruled the state for the past 24 years has suffered an ignominious defeat. It has won just one of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, down from 12 in 2019, and a little over a third of the assembly seats it won last time. 

The BJP can attribute its impressive victory to a few smart moves. 

The first was its decision to not form an alliance with the BJD and go it alone in Odisha.

Despite a section of party leaders in the state, as well as some top central leaders of the party, pitching for an alliance with the BJD, better sense prevailed and the saffron party decided to go it alone.

An alliance with the BJD would have cost the BJP dear since the party would have had to share the burden of anti-incumbency against the BJD. And such an alliance would have meant ceding the Opposition space to the Congress, thus allowing the latter to benefit from it. 

The BJP rightly calculated that there was latent anti-incumbency against the BJD and the anti-incumbency can be leveraged. 

Odisha is mired in poverty. Farm distress is common and agriculture is non-remunerative. Most people, especially in the rural areas, are poor and households lack electricity, water supply and toilets. 

The many welfare schemes initiated by the Narendra Modi government have not been allowed in the state by the BJD government. Though the state is rich in mineral resources, the people of the state have not benefited from the extraction of those resources. 

And on top of all this was the anger against Naveen Patnaik’s de facto successor, the bureaucrat-turned-politician V Karthikeyan Pandian. Pandian, a Tamil, is widely disliked because he is an ‘outsider’ who wields absolute control over the government machinery as well as the BJD. 

The BJP smartly launched a blistering offensive against the BJD by targeting its poor performance and also Pandian. 

That strategy has paid rich dividends and the party is now poised to form the government in the state. 

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