Bhubaneswar: With voters in Odisha defying the nationwide Narendra Modi ‘wave’ for the second straight time and engaging in tactical voting in the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik is set to embark on a fifth consecutive term as chief minister.
The regional party’s enviable electoral success in the Assembly polls, as was apparent from the trends in counting of votes by Thursday afternoon, has put the 72-year-old Patnaik firmly on the path to join the ranks of Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling and former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu, who hold the record for being India’s longest serving CMs.
By 5.10 pm, BJD’s candidates were leading in 100 Assembly constituencies after already winning in seven other constituencies in the polls for the state’s 147-member House. BJP, which conducted a blistering election campaign and vied hard to snatch power in the eastern state from BJD, was leading in only 21 seats and had won just one seat. Congress, which was so far the main opposition party in the state, was leading in 16 seats.
In the last Assembly polls held along with the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, the regional party had won 117 seats while Congress and BJP had bagged 16 and 10 seats respectively.
Voters in Odisha evidently engaged in tactical voting as they wholeheartedly chose BJD for the state and divided their votes between BJD and BJP while voting for Lok Sabha candidates. Of the state’s 21 Lok Sabha seats, BJD was leading in 13 while the saffron party was leading in the rest eight. BJD had won 20 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 polls, leaving BJP to draw consolation from the one seat (Sundargarh) it managed to win. Union minister Jual Oram won from here.
“We had said that there is no such thing as anti-incumbency in Odisha since Naveen Patnaik is heading BJD and continues to take care of the people’s interests. These election results prove that the people are keen to retain BJD and want Patnaik to continue as CM,” said an elated BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra.
Chamling, 69, has been the CM of Sikkim continuously for the past 25 years. In April 2018, he surpassed the record of India’s longest-serving CM set by Jyoti Basu, who remained the CM of West Bengal for 23 years from June 1977 to November 2000 before handing over charge to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Now, Naveen Patnaik is on his way to that rare league in Indian politics.