Almost all the national exit polls made public on Sunday following the end of the seven-phase elections, invariably show BJP having an edge over the incumbent BJD in Odisha.
The exit polls conducted by an array of electronic news channels from Times Now to India TV and Jaan Ki Baat depict the BJP usurping 10-12 Lok Sabha seats from Naveen Patnaik’s redoubtable BJD. It would be interesting to recall that during 2014 polls, the BJD exhibited its hegemony by winning 20 out of the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies. The lone seat for BJP was bagged by Jual Oram after a tough electoral contest with BJD’s Dilip Tirkey.
But the equations have altered this time if the exit polls are to be believed. Experts believe the BJP has been able to rupture the BJD’s seemingly impervious wall of victory due to split voting preferences of the people in Odisha. “During the three-tier panchayat polls, BJP gained immensely in votes as the people took to split voting. The same phenomenon of tactical voting was noticed in case of 2019 Parliamentary polls where people rooted largely for a Narendra Modi government at the Centre while they heavily backed Naveen’s comeback to power in Odisha. This bizarre voting pattern demystifies the electoral outcomes by the exit polls and also credibly explains BJD’s comeback to power albeit with diminished numbers”, said a political analyst.
The ruling BJD, however, did not find common ground with the exit poll outcomes, arguing they postulated exaggerated numbers for the BJP. “There are constituencies where we faced a fight from the BJP. But our overall performance will be a lot better than what the poll predictions suggest”, said a senior party leader.
By its own internal appraisal, the BJD is confident of reclaiming 16 Lok Sabha constituencies. In the balance five seats, the BJP is seen giving the ruling outfit a good run for its money. The Congress, on the contrary, is not even offering a semblance of competition to its bigger rivals and its numbers are seen dwindling further.
BJP’s leaders assert that the vote by the people of Odisha is a vindication of Modi government’s glittering performance on all fronts.
“People in Odisha had decided beforehand that they are going to vote in droves for Modi ji. The exit poll projections only demonstrate our government’s strengths”, said Baijayant Panda, BJP’s vice president and national spokesperson.
In Odisha, the BJD is seen mustering a comfortable majority, winning 85-95 seats, an exit poll by Sambad and Kanak News showed. The BJP is projected to improve its tally to 25-34 seats while for the Congress, 2019 would be the party’s worst electoral debacle.