Bhubaneswar: The by-polls to the two assembly seats including Balasore Sadar and Tirtol Assembly in Odisha ended registering over 70 per cent voter turnout despite COVID-19 pandemic. The fate of candidates is now sealed in electronic voting machines (EVMs). While the fate of the candidates will be formally decided on November 10, but the three major parties – the ruling Biju Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress have started their own calculations about the possible poll outcomes.
Even though, the poll results will have no or least impact on equation in the Odisha politics, considering the absolute majority the BJD enjoys in the Assembly, but it assumes significance and prestige is at stake for all the political parties, specially for the ruling BJD and BJP.
Which party will get how many votes and who is going to win with how many margins? These are some of the obvious questions that caught the attention of the political discourse in the State. The political analysts are very carefully and critically analyzing winning probability of the candidates in both the seat.
Looking at the position of the parties at the grassroots levels and acceptance of the leaders at the grassroot level, many political analysts have predicted a triumphing victory for the Biju Janata Dal with impressive margins in both the seats.
A 70.88% voter turnout was registered in Balasore, whereas it was 71% in the 2019 Assembly election. Similarly, in Tirtol, 69.9% voters came to exercise their franchise as against 73% in the previous poll.
According to analysts, the BJD polled 38.79 per cent of the vote in Balasore Sadar in 2019, which will go up to 45 per cent this time. The BJP’s vote share will fall from 47.26 per cent in 2019 to 40 per cent. The Congress vote share will also be reduced by 2 to 3 percent.
In Tirtol, the BJD is likely to get 55 to 56 per cent of the vote, as it did last time. The BJP’s vote share is projected to drop from 30.9 to 27-28 per cent and the Congress’s vote share from 13.73 per cent to 11 per cent.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, which has dominated the political landscape of Odisha for over two decades, expects to retain the Tirtol seat by a huge margin of 50,000 votes and win the Balasore Sadar seat with at least 25,000 margin of votes. An analysis of current political equation gives a clear picture how the ruling party enjoys comfort edge over its rivals in both the seats. And the the political equations are not in favor of the BJP or the Congress?
In the last general elections in Balasore Sadar, the Congress could able to get 19704 votes and came third in the contest. However, the party had surprised all when it changed its candidate for the by-election. The political analysts see the move a political blunder by the grand old party and could give a further dent to the already struggling Congress.
No doubt, many senior leaders of including Pradeep Majhi, and veteran leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati had made marathon campaigns to garner support for party candidate Mamata Kundu. But the PCC president and other top leaders had not done desirable campaigns in Balasore. Hence, it is very skeptical whether the Congress would get near same number of votes in the ensuing election.
Similarly, Manas Dutt, the son of the late BJP MLA Madan Mohan Dutt, is still in the back foot due to lack of necessary ground support and understanding among the top leaders of the party. Even, the saffron party could not engage agents at grassroots levels, say some locals.
Like Balasore Sadar, in Tirtol the change of candidates by both the Congress and BJP has proved boomerang for the parties, who had faced revolts over the selection of candidates. The saffron party’s selection of Rajkishore Behera, who fough previous election on Congress ticket had triggere internal feuds at the local level. The party’s candidate in 2014 and 2019 elections Ramakant Bhoi, who was said to be the strong contender for ticket, had left the saffron outfit along with his supports, who had openly protested the party’s decision to field Behera who joined BJP just recently after quitting Congress.
Although, the Congress field a highly educated and young leader as part of its new strategy, but it is predicted that the Congress vote was divided. In the last election from Tirtol, Congress candidate Devi Prasad Mallick polled 23,809 votes. It is very doubtful if political novice Himanshu Bhushan Mallick can able to secure at least 13 per cent of the vote for the Congress. In addition, the fate of the Congress in Tirtol depends on two Biswal brothers. Although the Congress has never won, the BJD’s vote gap depends on the role of the Biswal brothers. In 2014, Rajkishore Behera became a Congress candidate. He also has good relations with Biswal family. Now Behera is part of BJP camp giving a somehow disturbing equations both for the BJP and Congress.