PURI: All eyes are on Odisha where both the ruling BJD led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the BJP, riding high on the popularity of PM Narendra Modi, have made big claims of winning the crucial Lok Sabha election 2019 in this eastern coastal state of India.
The fate of 174 candidates in fray from 21 Lok Sabha constituencies, which voted in four phases of 2019 Lok Sabha election from April 11 till April 29, will be decided on May 23, Thursday. The final results will be declared after the counting of votes is over.
The state of Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats. 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.
Lok Sabha constituencies which went to polls in the first phase on April 11 are - Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Berhampur, Koraput. In the second phase on April 18, voting was held in Bargarh, Sundargarh, Bolangir, Kandhamal, Aska. All the constituencies in Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar regions voted in the third phase on April 23. All the constituencies in Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur regions voted in the fourth phase on April 29.
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.
Though most of the exit polls have predicted that BJP will make inroads in the Odisha this time riding on the popularity of PM Modi, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed hopes that his party will play a crucial role in the government formation at the Centre. In the Biju Janata Dal-ruled Odisha, the BJP has been projected to win 12 Lok Sabha seats, a big leap from 2014 when it had won just 1 seat. Naveen Patnaik's BJD is likely to win 8 seats while just 1 seat may go to the Congress party.
Key Lok Sabha constituencies to watch out for is Kandhamal (BJD's Achyuta Samanta, Kharavela Swain of BJP and Monoj Acharya of Congress), Puri (BJD's Pinaki Misra vs BJP's Sambit Patra); Bhubaneswar (IAS-IPS battle between BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi and BJD’s Arup Patnaik); Cuttack(DGP Prakash Mishra (BJP) vs Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) vs Panchanan Kanungo of Congress). Sambalpur (BJP’s Nitesh Gangdev vs BJD’s Nalinikanta Pradhan vs Congress’ Sarat Patnaik). Dhenkanal (BJP's Rudra Narayan Pani vs BJD's Mahesh Sahu and Congress' KP Singh Deo)
In 2014 general elections, the BJD had secured 20 seats, the BJP one and the Congress had drawn a blank.
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, the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar had said. The counting of Lok Sabha votes in Odisha will be held in 7 tables each for the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly, the CEO said adding that declaration of results will take time in Odisha for this reason.