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Odisha Panchayat Polls: BJD leads the pack

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 01: Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal is heading towards a landslide victory in the three-tire panchayat polls leaving opposition BJP and Congress far behind as counting on Monday revealed the Naveen Patnaik-led party had expanded its strong grip in the coastal state.

The latest trend issued by the State Election Commission (SEC) showed the BJD had already won or was leading in 762 Zilla Parishad seats compared to BJP's 46 and Congress's 36 seats. Independents are leading in just three seats, other parties are ahead in four, PTI reported.

Odisha Panchayat Polls: BJD leads the pack

Of the 620 ZP seats results announced so far, the BJD secured 552 seats followed by BJP's 31 and Congress's 30. Independents and others share just 7 declared seats. These votes were counted on the two previous days while the counting process was underway in 331 other seats on Monday.

Taking both the results declared and the trend, the BJD is heading towards smashing all previous records. The regional party had secured 651 ZP seats in 2012 panchayat elections while its tally was 476 in the 2017 elections. There are 852 ZP seats in Odisha.

On the other hand, the opposition BJP, which secured 297 ZP seats in 2017 elections, this time is about to lose nearly 250 seats while Congress may also see its tally come down to 36 seats in 2022 from 60 seats in 2017. Considering this trend, the BJD is likely to form Parishads in all 30 districts of the state, including the saffron party bastions of western Odisha, Mayubhanj in north and Malkangiri in southern region.

In western Odisha from where the saffron party won six of its 8 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 general elections, and 169 of 212 Zilla Parishad in 2017, the BJP is seen as coming a cropper. BJP's strongholds in Bolangir, Nuapada, Sonepur, Kalahandi, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Malkangiri and Mayurbhanj have given it little succour this time round.

The BJD has almost reversed the results here this time with the trends indicating an 80 per cent win in these districts.

The results of the panchayat elections is significant as it will have an impact on the ensuing general elections for the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) which is scheduled to be held on March 24, 2022.

Altogether 2.2 lakh candidates were in the fray and the SEC has already declared 36,523 ward members, 126 Sarpanchs, 326 Samiti members, and one Zilla Parishad nominee as elected uncontested.

Speaking on the drubbing in the rural polls, BJP MP from Bargarh Suresh Pujari said the party must analyze the reasons of losing ZP seats in all the districts, particularly in the western region.

Union Minister Bisheswar Tudu, who had extensively campaigned for the BJP in Mayurbhanj district, blamed the BJD for "influencing voters by using its government machinery".

"I am surprised over the panchayat election results. It is hard to believe that the polls were conducted in a free and fair manner," Tudu said.

BJP MP from Balasore Pratap Sarangi, however, described the election results as the reflection of money power.

According to political analysts, the distribution of smart health cards under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana by the BJD government proved to be a game-changer in this year's panchayat polls.

(PTI)

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