By Subhransu Panda, Bhubaneswar:
Both BJD and BJP claim chances of winning
The Bijepur by-election in Odisha is a matter of pride and achievement for both the leading aspirant political parties; BJP and the ruling BJD. Congress is far away from the fight, though there was a chance of retaining its ground in Bijepur.
It’s clear that congress will lose the battle of Bijepur. But who will win the race? The answer is still uncertain. Both BJP and BJD are claiming a massive majority there in Bijepur Assembly constituency.
Odisha BJP’s premier face and Union Minister Dharmendra Paradhan is sure of Bijepur victory. According to him BJD will bite dust in this much hyped bypoll. On the other hand, BJD supremo and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik assured party-men that he himself would campaign for the Bijepur pride. Party is damn sure of wining.
Let’s calculate the chances of winning at Bijepur based on past facts and figures.
It’s a positive ground for congress since the inception of Bijepur constituency. BJD has won only once in 2000. Congress has won the battle of Bijepur 8 times out of 13 elections. Since 2004 late congress MLA Subal Sahu had won the battle thrice continuously.
But after Subal sahu’s death, Congress failed in capturing the mercy votes,while BJD is sporting late Subal’s wife Rita Sahu as it’s candidate. The 2000 BJD MLA Ashok Panigrahi joined BJP in protest.
In 2000 BJD got 54% votes and won the battle. In 2014 Congress won with 54% votes. That means, 2000 election was just one chance for BJD. But people in Bijepur actually preferred Congress or its candidate. But though congress won it again and again, the vote percentage was gradually decreasing. In 2009 Subal won with 41% votes and in 2014 he won again with 32% votes. In 2014 BJD lost but the vote sharing was almost same.
If the same mood of voters will prevail this by-election, no doubt BJD will win with more than 60% votes.
But the ex-BJD MLA has Ashok Panigrahi is now a BJP candidate. In 2014 election BJP obtained 18% votes and Ashok as an independent candidate got 11%. If the mood of voters remains same, BJP may get maximum 30% votes.
But there is a third factor which may give BJP a chance to win in Bijepur. In last three elections vote share of Congress and BJD gradually decrease and vote share of BJP increases. That means both Congress and BJD voters are migrating to BJP. Ashok himself demands pulling more BJD votes towards BJP. As the wife of three-times winner Subal Sahu joins BJD, her conventional voters may get irked and jump to BJP as congress has no hope this time.
So there is more chance of neck to neck fight in Bijepur. Whoever win, will win with a minimum margin.
Subhransu Panda is an author and journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com and 9338655845.