State polls buck Lok Sabha trend as local stalwarts steal the show

BJD workers rejoice the party’s win in Odisha
The Assembly elections in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim appear to have bucked the Modi wave. 

In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has retained his bastion; in Andhra Pradesh, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has stunned Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with a huge victory while the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) may be set to upset the Sikkim Democratic Front’s (SDF’s) winning streak.   

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is coasting home to a fifth straight term in power, contradicting naysayers on anti-incumbency and dip in mass appeal.

Patnaik, who first tasted electoral success in Odisha’s Assembly poll in 2000, has seen colossal mandates in his favour in each election thereafter. Latest trends show his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is leading in 110 of the 146 Assembly segments. 

Elections in Patkura, a constituency in the coastal district of Kendrapara, had to be deferred first due to the demise of BJD's nominee Ved Prakash Agarwal and later as the state government appealed to the Election Commission of India to pull back dates after the state was pounded by the cataclysmic storm Fani. Even as Patnaik rules the Odisha Assembly, the BJP is sure to improve its tally in 2019. The BJP, leading in 22 seats, is seen relegating Congress, the principal Opposition in Odisha, to the third spot. 

The BJD in 2014, had won a landslide victory, grabbing 117 of the Assembly's strength of 147. Congress was a distant second with 16 seats while BJP had to contend at the third spot with wins in only 10 seats.

2019 elections are an encore for the BJD as the regional party is again headed for a crushing two-thirds majority in the Assembly. The Congress, on the other hand, is left licking the wounds of its 2014 disaster with the party leading in just 12 seats.

“In Odisha, it was a contest between Brand Modi and Brand Naveen. People in Odisha largely rooted for the BJD, overwhelmed by the chief minister's unblemished record, his suite of reforms and people-centric programmes. Going by the trends in Odisha poll outcome, people here have not widely accepted either the BJP or Congress. The BJP gaining handsomely at the national level and the same trend not reflecting in Odisha calls for an introspection by the party”, said an analyst.  The BJD, tipped to emerge as the single-largest party in Odisha, has polled 44.6 per cent of the votes cast. BJP is next with 32.62 per cent share whereas the Congress could manage barely 16 per cent in a bipolar battle.

A Jagan Mohan Reddy supporter celebrates the victory of YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh
In Andhra Pradesh, Opposition YSR Congress Party, headed by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, has swept the polls, winning or leading in 152 out of the 175 seats, decimating Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's TDP. Compared to 103 seats in the previous Assembly elections, the TDP has won just 22 this time.

The surge in favour of Reddy was complete with several high profile leaders from the ruling TDP, including Naidu's son and minister Nara Lokesh facing defeat in the hands YSR Congress candidates. Actor-politician Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena Party, that had fought the elections independently, lost wherever it contested. Pawan Kalyan has lost from both the Kapu-dominated Gajuwaka seat in Visakhapatnam as well as Bhimavaram in West Godavari. 

In contrast to the national trend, the BJP failed to mark its presence in Andhra Pradesh’s fiercely fought electoral battle.  

The elections of 2019 finally gave Jagan Reddy's eight-year political struggle a successful closure. In the first four years, after his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy's untimely death in September 2009, he battled against the Congress leadership and against Chandrababu Naidu after losing out to the TDP in 2014 elections, by a narrow margin. YSR CP had won 66 seats in the previous Assembly elections. 

He also faced a tough political challenge in the hands of Naidu when the ruling party had poached 20 of YSR Congress's elected representatives.  Jagan has been facing charges of quid pro quo financial gains in 12 cases filed by the CBI on the direction from the AP High Court. What might have clicked for him however is his year-long padyatra in the run-up to elections 2019.  Just as his father had done in the run up to the 2004 elections, that brought victory for the Congress party, Jagan undertook the padyatra, covering more than 3,500 km over 13 districts.  

The SDF in Sikkim — in power since 1994 — is, however, trailing. Pawan Chamling, the longest-serving chief minister of India with five terms — that put him in the league of West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu —was seeking a sixth this time.  But the SKM has won 10 and is leading in three of the 32 seats, according to the  trends. The SDF has won four and is leading in four.  SDF’s tally is a major upset compared to the results of 2014 when it had won 22 of the seats. In 2009, it had won all the seats. The BJP — which formed an alliance with the SKM but parted ways ahead of the elections- has not bagged any seat. But then Sikkim has always favoured local parties. 

In Arunchal Pradesh, Prema Khandu-led BJP is set to retain his hold with the party having won 19 seats and leading in eight of the 60-seat Assembly. The Congress has won three and is leading in one while the JD(U) has won five and is leading in one.

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