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Parties calculate Karnataka verdict’s fallout

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : May 28, 2018, 5:17 am IST
Updated : May 28, 2018, 6:24 am IST

The ruling BJD headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik has 118 legislators in the 147-member Odisha Legislative Assembly.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
 Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: The recently concluded Assembly elections in Karnataka, the fractured mandate it threw up, and finally, the high drama that followed with regard to formation of government in the southern state, seem to have started influencing the present course of politics in Odisha.

With the state set to witness Karnataka-like fierce triangular contest involving the regional ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the BJP and the Congress, poll pundits foresee none of them getting an absolute majority to form the next government.

Analysts feel that the state Congress, after having been in moribund for nearly 18 years because of bitter factional feuds, is now a force to be reckoned with under its new chief  Niranjan Patnaik.

The grand old party, which is breathing down the neck of the ruling BJD, hopes to benefit from the anti-incumbency factor as well as slow growth in the state due to alleged large-scale corruption.

BJP chief Basanta PandaBJP chief Basanta Panda

The ruling BJD headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik has 118 legislators in the 147-member Odisha Legislative Assembly. The Opposition Congress has 16 members while the BJP has got 10 lawmakers.

Analysts calculate that the Congress and the BJP, which have launched aggressive campaigns in the state, would add substantially to their tally. Both the parties, in the worst of the situations, would get at least 20 to 25 seats. Such a situation would deprive the BJD of getting the magic number of 74 to retain power.

The Congress has already made its stand clear on the issue of poll alliance. Former Union railway minister and party’s newly-appointed campaign committee chairperson Bhakta Charan Das  said that in the event of no-party gettingan  absolute majority the BJD would be a natural post-poll alliance partner because of its “secular” character.

“Ideologically, the BJD is closer to the Congress because of its secular character. In case of a fractured verdict, the regional party would be our natural partner,” he said, quickly adding that his party would get absolute majority and form the government on its own strength.

Earlier, BJD Lok Sabha member from Cuttack, Bhartruhari Mahatab,  had also dropped hints about a possible “understanding“ with the Congress to keep the BJP at bay.

The BJP, which has been looking to expand its base in eastern India,  despite its momentous efforts including launching of its 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign from Puri Jagannath temple by Narendra Modi, — has not been able to make any inroads into the BJD vote bank. The party, however, feels that it has a chance this time as it is the second major force in the state now after leaving the Congress far behind in the 2017 rural elections.

In the rural local body polls, the BJP won 297 of the total 854 Zilla Parishad seats. The Congress got only 60 Zilla Parishad  seats while the BJD won 473 seats.

BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, however, has kept his cards close to his chest on possible alliances.

Analysts maintain that though the Odisha CM had severed his decade-old ties with the BJP in 2009 dubbing the party “communal”, he may still join hand with it in case of fractured mandate.

“Though the Odisha CM claims to maintain equidistance from the BJP and Congress, he will forge a post-poll alliance with either of the two parties if the situation so demands in case of a split verdict,” said Prasanna Kumar Mohanty, a political commentator.

No clear winner

  • Karnataka’s fractured mandate is influencing Odisha’s current politics
  • Poll pundits foresee none of the big three —BJD, Cong, BJP — getting an absolute majority to form the next government in the state on their own
  • The Cong hopes to benefit from anti-incumbency as well as large-scale corruption that has allegedly choked the state’s growth story
  • The BJP is upbeat after  it emerged as the second major political force in rural polls. It sees a good chance to wrest power from the BJD.

Tags: karnataka assembly election, naveen patnaik, niranjan patnaik
Location: India, Odisha, Bhubaneswar