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General election 2019: Who will win Odisha?
In the run up to the general election 2019, Odisha emerges as an important state having 21 seats. While Navin Patnaik will seek a record fifth term as Chief Minister on the basis of his undented popularity even after 19 years of tenure, the BJP will be eying for significant gains from Odisha for compensating its possible losses in the Hindi heartland, where it had reached the maturity level in 2014.

The Congress on the other hand under leadership of Niranjan Patnaik would be eyeing for a revival on the basis on its loyal core vote bank.

In 1998, the BJD was carved out of the then Janata Dal and contested the Parliamentary election in coalition with the BJP. Vajapayee was the popular face based on which the BJD-BJP combine won 16 seat in 1998; 19 seats in 1999 and 18 seats in 2004. In 2009, the coalition broke. The BJD won 14 seats with the BJP drawing a blank. In fact, over time the BJP's all booth-level infrastructure was systematically hijacked by BJD's chief advisor Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. During 2014 when Modi wave was at the peak, the BJP managed to win just one seat whereas the BJD won the rest 20 seats.

In 2014 general election, BJD, BJP and the Congress had a vote share of 44.10%, 21.50% and 26% respectively. The Congress' vote share was although more than that of the BJP yet it couldn't win a single seat while the BJP won a seat. However, in the Panchayat election 2017, the BJP's vote share jumped from 21.5% to 32% whereas the Congress' vote share slipped from 26% to 18%. BJD's vote share too increased up to 49%. However, the BJP was able to increase its number of seats by 850% most of which were snatched from the Congress and a few from the BJD. The BJP had taken away the vote share of the Congress (around 8%) and the balance 2.5% from independents and others.

Now let's see the figures of 2014 general election. The BJP had won one seat and finished second on 9 seats. If closely looked then one can understand that the BJP's vote share was mostly concentrated in these 10 seats and on the rest eleven seats it had negligible presence except for Puri where it had around 21% vote share. Thus, if its vote share even remains 32% as it was in the 2017 Panchayat election, then one shouldn't be surprised if the BJP wins around 9 out of these 10 seats. Then there's Kendrapara seat also. Two time MP from Kendrapara constituency, Baijayant Panda, who had got around 52.72% vote share in 2014 on BJD's ticket has now joined the BJP. Panda himself is an active MP who has remained in touch with the ground level people throughout the last ten years has an excellent rapport with the voters. Furthermore, Kendrapara is basically a non-Congress seat which has significant support for the BJP. Thus, if Baijayanta Panda wins from Kendrapara, then I wouldn't be surprising. Similarly, Puri is another seat where the BJP has significant presence. It had got 20.76% of votes in 2014 finishing third.

Thus, there are 12 seats where the BJP can hope to win. BJD's problem is that although Navin Patnaik enjoys huge popularity, all his party's MLAs and MPs are facing severe anti-incumbency. Further, there's intra-party groupism which is visible from the outside. Firstly, the relations between MPs and MLAs are bitter. Secondly there are groups among MLAs. Also, in each constituency there are rivals like second line cadres who want ticket as they have worked for twenty years. Tathagata Satapathy has already declared that he is not contesting the election. Many other MPs are also in such a dilemma whether to contest or not. Some are also afraid of not getting tickets. Overall, the BJD is facing serious anti-incumbency and the BJP should benefit from this unless, of course there's a miracle from Navin Patnaik.

For assembly elections the case is different. The 2014 vote share of the BJD, BJP and the Congress was 43.4%, 18% and 25.7% respectively. Seats won by the BJD, BJP and Congress were 117, 16 and 10 respectively. Also, a fact to be noted is that the BJD (0.5%), the Congress (0.3%) and the BJP (3.5%) had got lesser votes compared to their Parliamentary vote share. This means in that in the Assembly election a lot of local parties will make an impact. Thus, even if the BJP gets 32% of the vote share in the Assembly election, it's unlikely to get a majority in the Assembly election. As its vote share is concentrated in 12 LS seats only, the anti-BJD votes in rest of the nine seats may go to the Congress which is the only alternative in 9 Lok Sabha seats. The equation is such that despite 19 years of incumbency, the BJD may manage with a simple majority whereas the BJP might end up with 40 odd seats and the Congress with 30 seats. It might appear complicated when I say that the BJP could win 10-12 seats out of the 21 Parliamentary seats yet the BJD would most likely retain power in the state. But then, Odisha's politics is such that people do vote differently for the Assembly and Parliamentary elections though both are contested simultaneously.

With a caveat that the Indian voters are very smart and their mandate many a times has even surprised the experts, my analysis is based on the facts and figures as on date but the real election results may turn out differently.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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