The Election fever was never been so intense in Odisha as this time around. The eastern coastal region which has always been the impregnable fortress for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is slowly coming under its aegis. The saffron surge in Odisha has created tremors and has become a matter of concern for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Odisha was among the few states that bucked the Modi wave in 2014 but this time the tides may turn culminating into major shuffle in the final tally. After BJP’s unbelievable success in the Northeast, particularly Assam and Tripura, the BJP is aiming big to spread its wings in Odisha as a part of its ‘Look east policy’.
To win maximum seats in Odisha, the party had invested its maximum force into the state. While a popular and youthful Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, has been projected as an alternative face to Naveen Patnaik for quite some time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have made numerous visits to connect with the masses in Odisha.
Odisha sends ten members to the Rajya Sabha. The state has 21 Lok Sabha seats (Parliamentary constituencies). There are five seats reserved for candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and four seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates. Some important constituencies of Odisha are Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Koraput, Kalahandi, and Balasore. The state legislature is unicameral and currently it has 147 members.
In 2014, the BJD won 20 seats out of 21 whereas the BJP under the leadership of then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi begged only a single seat. The Congress party on the other hand failed to open its account. The 2014 polls in Odisha were held in two phases on April 10 and 17. The state sends 21 members in the Lok Sabha and the BJD won 20 seats, while the BJP was able to win a single seat of Sundargarh. Jual Oram defeated BJD's Dilip Kumar Tirkey from the constituency and relegated former chief minister and Congress leader Hemananda Biswal to the third position. The BJD received 94,89,946 votes with a vote share of 44.77 per cent, while the BJP was able to garner 46,38,565 votes in the state with a vote share of 21.88 per cent. The saffron party came second in Balasore, Bargarh, Bhubaneswar, Bolangir, Dhenkanal, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sambalpur. The Congress got more votes than the BJP in the elections but drew a blank. The party got 55,91,380 votes with 26.38 per cent of the vote share.
In 2009, the BJD won 14 seats whereas the Congress won only six seats followed by CPI with 1 seat. The Bharatiya Janata Party failed to open its account.
In 2004, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) alliance won 18 seats followed by Congress with 2 seats and JMM with 1 seat. And in 1999, the BJP+ BJD won 19 seats and the Congress on the other hand won 2.
In the election history of Odisha, three parties namely INC, Janata Dal (JD) and currently the BJD have played the pivotal role. INC was in power from 1946 to 1967. But its winning streak was lost in 1967 when the Swatantra Party came to power. It was succeeded by the United Front in 1971. In 1972, INC came back to power and ruled till 1977. In the 1977 elections, it lost to JD. INC made a comeback in the 1980 elections and continued to rule till 1990. In 1990, JD won the elections. In the 1995 elections, INC emerged victorious, but lost to BJD in 2000. Since then, BJD has won the 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections and is currently the most influential party in the state.