BJD storming to power in Odisha for fifth consecutive term
Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD in Odisha is set to form government for a record fifth term in a row, having bagged 104 of the 146 Assembly seats in the state and establishing leads in eight others.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is steering his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) singularly to another emphatic victory, has pocketed his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district and is currently leading from Bijepur constituency in west Odisha.
The BJP has made substantial gains in Odisha this time, with its nominees clinching 23 seats so far, while the Congress has bagged just nine seats. The CPI(M) and an Independent have bagged one seat each.
Counting is currently underway for eight seats.
The BJD, which secured an absolute majority, is marching towards a two-third share in the assembly, with most of its ministers, including S N Patro, Usah Devi, Bikram Keshari Arukh, Prafulla Samal and Nrusingha Sahu registering thumping victories.
Polling was held in 146 of the state's 147 assembly seats, as election in Patkura was postponed twice, first after the death of a candidate and then due to cyclone Fani.
While the government's chief whip and former minister Amar Prasad Satpathy won from Barchana assembly seat, Minister Prafulla Mallick retained his home turf Kamakhyanagar.
BJD candidate and Rajya Sabha member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, son-in-law of former chief minister J B Patnaik, won the Khandapada seat, defeating nearest Independent candidate Dusmanta Swain by a whopping 81,430 votes - the highest margin in the assembly polls so far.
Patnaik had suffered a defeat in Khandapada in 2014 assembly polls by a razor thin margin 605 votes.
BJD heavyweight and minister Maheswar Mohanty, however, faced defeat at the hands of by Jayant Kumar Sarangi of the BJP in Puri assembly seat.
The saffron party is poised to emerge as the main opposition in the state. However, unlike in most other states, where the BJP and its allies look in firm command, the party will be a feeble opposition in Odisha.
The party has 10 seats in the outgoing House.
Though BJP stalwart and former minister Jai Narayan Mishra trounced sitting BJD MLA Raseshwari Panigrahi in Sambalpur seat, many saffron party stalwarts, including Radharani Panda,and Rabi Naik, lost their seats to rivals.
In another major setback to the BJP, its legislature party leader K V Singhdeo failed to wrest the Patnagarh seat from BJD's Saroj Kumar Meher.
The Congress, which suffered a major blow in the state, has clinched just nine seats so far.
The grand old party has 16 MLAs in the outgoing House.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee chief Niranjan Patnaik on Friday resigned from his post, following his defeat in Bhandaripokhari and the party's poor show in the state.
State minister Prafulla Samal has pocketed the Bhandaripokhari seat by defeating Patnaik by 8859 votes.
Niranjan Patnaik is also trailing behind BJD nominee Badri Narayan Patra in Ghasipura.
Talking to reporters here, he said, "I have sent my resignation to AICC president (Rahul Gandhi) owning moral responsibility for the party's poor show in both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state."
In Bolangir, however, the grand old party has been able save its face.
Leader of opposition in the outgoing Assembly, Narasingh Mishra, defeated BJD's Arkesh Narayan Singhdeo by 5346 votes to retain the seat.
Firebrand Congress leader and party whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati clinched the Jeypore seat, beating BJD nominee and former minister Rabi Narayan Nanda by 5451 votes.
The CPI(M) has been able to bag just one seat in the state, with its candidate Laxman Munda trouncing BJD Rajit Kisan by 12,030 votes, while an Independent candidate Makaranda Muduli pocketed Rayagada constituency.