PURI: Whether Odisha will go with the saffron party riding on the popularity of PM Narendra Modi or Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik will get another term as Chief Minister all this will be clear when the counting of votes begins on May 23. The fate of 1,137 candidates in fray from 147 assembly constituencies, which voted on April 11 in the first phase of 2019 Lok Sabha election, will be decided on May 23, Thursday. The final results will be declared after the counting of votes is over.
Of the total 147 Assembly seats, 88 are in general category, 25 are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and 34 are for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates. At present, the BJD occupies 118 seats in the state assembly, Congress 16, BJP 10, Independent and others 3.
Naveen Patnaik of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been running the state since March 2000. He had formed an alliance with the BJP and won a majority in 2000 but walked away from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) before the Lok Sabha and the Odisha state assembly polls in 2009 and successfully won the majority of seats alone.
Assembly polls for all 147 seats in Odisha were held on April 11, while polling in 21 Lok Sabha constituencies was held in four phases - first (April 11), second (April 18), third (April 23) and fourth (April 29).
According to the Election Commission, a total of 174 candidates for Lok Sabha constituencies and 1,137 for Assembly segments were in the fray for the four phase 2019 Lok Sabha election in Odisha.
The total number of electorates eligible to vote for the Odisha Assembly and Lok Sabha elections stood at 3.18 crore. Of the total 3.18 crore electorates, 1.63 crores are males while 1.54 crore are females. The state also registered over 5.45 lakh first-time voters, who come in the age group of 18 to 19 years.
The state electoral body had set up 37,606 polling stations for the smooth, free and fair conduct of the polls in Odisha. As many as 4,154 polling stations were set up in urban regions while 33,452 polling stations lie in rural regions of the state.
The state witnessed a triangular contest between the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. BJD chief Naveen Patnaik is one of the strongest contenders. Besides, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, former BJD leader Baijayant Panda, who recently joined hands with the saffron party, Congress’ Niranjan Patnaik and Narasingha Mishra are also in the fray. BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab and former state finance minister Prasanna Acharya are also among the prominent faces to watch out for.
Most of the exit polls have indicated a fifth consecutive term for Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha. In the Assembly election, Naveen Patnaik's party is ahead as per the exit polls forecast. Last time, BJD had secured 117 seats in the 147- member Odisha Assembly. The BJP could win in 10 seats in the assembly while Congress had 16 MLAs. The state's main opposition party - the Congress – has claimed that its performance this time will be much better than its 2014 election show.
The announcement of 2019 Lok Sabha election results in Odisha is likely to be delayed compared to other states since votes for assembly polls will also have to be counted. Besides, voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPATs) will also have to be counted and that will also take some time.