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What message did Odisha Panchayat Elections 2017 give to BJD, Congress & BJP
Generally, local body election results in a state goes in the favour of ruling party except some big metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore etc. Recently concluded three tire Panchayat elections in Odisha also were not different where BJD won around 56% of Zilla Parishad Zones (473 out of 846 zones).

The result of seven zones were declared because of postponement for various reasons. Here the point to be noted is that only Zilla Parishad zones were contested on party symbol whereas the Panchayat and block level elections were contested without party symbol although candidates claim that they have been endorsed by different political parties. However, the Zilla Parishad election results carry important message for parties. The message is decoded as below.

BJD although won 473 seats out of 846 seats, but its performance was down by around 178 seats compared to 2012 Panchayat elections where it had won an astounding 651 number of Zilla Parishad zones. It lost all such seats to BJP, which doesn't have any visible organisational structure nor have a strong mass leader.

The message to BJD is very clear that CM Naveen Patnaik is still a popular leader in Odisha, but people rejected other BJD leaders who had taken people for granted. Everyone knows that Odisha is governed by only Naveen Patnaik through secretaries and other ministers have no power at all.

Yet people expect that MLAs need to be present near people whenever they are required. Most of the BJD leaders remain disconnected from people considering that people of Odisha will vote in the name of Naveen Patnaik till eternity. Odisha voters gave a warning in this local body elections against such attitude. It's the people of Odisha who rejected Biju Patnaik when he took people for granted. Both Naveen Patnaik and BJD leaders need to re-establish the connection with people on ground else people will dethrone BJD from power in 2019. This is an important message.

The Congress, which was the main rival party in Odisha polity performed poorly as they got just 60 ZP zones, around 68 less than their 2012 tally. Congress could not get the benefit of public anger against BJD leaders.

BJP, with no visible organisational structure on ground or any state level mass leader, gained around 178 seats from BJD and all 68 seats from the Congress to increase its tally to 297.

In 2012, BJP's tally was just 36. If you say that Narendra Modi's popularity benefited BJP in this local body elections, I would say you don't know anything about Odisha polity. Narendra Modi is always popular in Odisha, but people of Odisha cast their votes based on ground realities and local leaders. Thus if the BJP got lot of seats it's because people of Odisha also gave a message to the Congress party.

The message is simple that people neither endorsed the groups inside Congress party nor they endorsed the Congress's policy of opposing anything and everything under the sun against Modi government. They neither endorsed the opposition to demonetisation nor endorsed the Congress behaviour of obstructing both the parliament as well Odisha assembly.

The Congress party observed some Bandhs in Odisha, which were very violent and inflicted huge inconvenience to the public. Thus public's stern message is behave like a responsible political party else even if they want to vote against BJD, they will not support the Congress by default rather prefer to vote for BJP, which doesn't have any organisational presence on ground in the state. Hope Rahul Gandhi and Co will take this message seriously.

For BJP, my advice is neither get overwhelmed with this election result nor consider it result of Narendra Modi's popularity. Odisha public gave a message to the BJP that they are looking upon BJP as a possible alternative but then BJP has to do much ground work before 2019 elections if at all it wants success. The organisation must be strengthened and local leaders must be trusted and elevated.

At the moment only Dharmendra Pradhan (Union Minister for Petroleum) appears to be appreciated by the public of Odisha. But, then there is a visible sign of a particular group of BJP opposing Dharmendra Pradhan. It's time for unity and to work relentlessly to win public confidence, else people will definitely reject BJP in 2019 elections. People will again choose BJD as they have faith in Naveen Patnaik.

Thus message to all the three main political parties in the state namely BJD, Congress and BJP from the public of Odisha is very clear and specific. Let's see who really understands the message and act accordingly. 2019 election results will say how the parties acted upon this public message. It must not be forgotten that Odisha public is politically very aware and just don't vote on the basis of caste, community, religion or individual charisma.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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naveen patnaik
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