Congress receives drubbing in LS polls in Odisha, draws blank
For the first time in the electoral history of Odisha, the Congress failed to win even a single Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 election
Out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, the ruling BJD captured 20 seats in the just concluded elections and the BJP one.
Though the Congress has fielded six sitting MPs including two former Chief Ministers, two former Union Ministers and a Union Minister, they failed to win the confidence of the people and lost the elections in all the 21 seats.
This was for the first time since the first election held in 1952 that the Congress, the oldest political party in the country, got such a drubbing in the hands of the voters.
Though the number of seats won by the Congress was reduced to single digit in 1957,1967,1977,1989, 1998,1999,2004 and 2009 elections but it had never drawn a blank.
The party had won 7 Lok Sabha seats in 1957, 6 in 1967, 4 in 1977,three in 1989, 5 in 1998, 2 each in 1999 and 2004 and 6 Lok Sabha seats in 2009.
The party had fared excellently in 1980 and 1984 elections by winning 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats.
Union Minister for Chemical and Fertiliser Srikant Jena lost to BJD greenhorn Rabindra Kumar Jena in Balasore Lok Sabha seat. while former Chief Minister Giridhari Gamang was defeated by sitting MLA Jhina Hikaka, another former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal lost to former Union Minister Juel Oram of BJP in a 12-cornered contest in Sundergarh(ST) Lok Sabha seat.
Similarly former Union Ministers--Chandra Shekhar Sahoo (Berhumpur), Bhakta Charan Das(kalahandi) have to bite the dust in the hands of their opponents, the ruling BJD.
Not only in terms of number of seats but also the vote share of the Congress was drastically reduced in the election.
Even in the worst period, the average vote share of the Congress had never gone down below 32 per cent. But for the first time in the history of the Congress, its vote share in the state came down to 26.3 per cent in Assembly and 25.7 per cent in Lok Sabha election.
Political observers here said the intra party fighting, serious leadership crisis, poor poll management, failure of the party leadership to select the right candidates for elections, delay in announcement in the names of the candidates led to such a dismal performance of the party at the hustings.
In addition. the Congress high command decided to change the OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik and induct Mr Jaydev Jena, when the party was surging ahead in popularity to bring the disaster for the party.
Mr Jena has neither the organisational capability nor political clout and soon after the change of leadership at the PCC, a senior leader Soumyaranjan Patnaik was expelled from the party on the charges of his anti-party activities.
The central leadership took the decision to expel Mr Patnaik under pressure from a group of Congress leaders who wanted to sideline the J B Patnaik family in the state Congress politics. Patnaik's family have dominated the state politics for decades and have a lot of clouts and support in the grass root level.
Candidates for the elections were selected by a coterie without considering their winibility and ground reality.
Dismayed with such decision a number of leaders including leader of opposition deserted the party and joined the rival parties.
Though there were allegations of involvement of the BJD government in a series of multi crore scams like chit fund scam, mining scam and coal scam, the Congress miserably failed to take advantage of it.
While BJD Chief Naveen Patnaik toured across the state and highlighted the achievements of his government to woo the voters except a couple of election meetings addressed by Party Chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi neither any national leader nor senior leaders of the party level campaigned for votes in the constituencies.
The party workers and leaders were divided right from the grass root level to top level and there was no leader who could mobilise them and unitedly fight the election.
(Posted on 17-05-2014)