ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Election Results in Odisha

Welfarism versus Hindutva

The 2019 elections in Odisha present a unique case where Narendra Modi becomes the most acceptable face as Prime Minister, but the Biju Janata Dal gets an upper hand in vote shares and seats. While the Bharatiya Janata Party has substantially gained in terms of vote share, the BJD has retained its popularity. The decline of Congress and the emergence of a women-centric political discourse in Odisha must be seen in this context.

The election results in Odisha underline two crucial aspects of competitive electoral politics in the state. First, an elusive “battle of images” between Naveen Patnaik as a simple and committed chief minister and Narendra Modi as a powerful and decisive Prime Minister eventually determined the outcome of the elections. Second, the electoral competition turned out to be a clear tussle between rural Odisha—which depends on welfare and affirmative action—and the aspirational urban Odisha, whose power elite strives to emerge as a politically relevant middle class. The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a powerful challenger and the stability of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the state, therefore, must be adequately focused on in the changing political universe of Odisha.

This article makes a modest attempt to answer three fundamental questions. First, why did the BJD manage to secure a comfortable victory (both in assembly as well as in Lok Sabha) despite Modi’s phenomenal popularity in the state? Second, how did the BJP almost effortlessly replace the Congress as the main opposition party in the state? And third, why do the ideas of welfarism, good governance and women’s empowerment continue to remain relevant as electoral issues in Odisha?

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Updated On : 1st Apr, 2021
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