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Will Andhra Pradesh Follow Odisha Model?


Will Andhra Pradesh follow the Odisha model, voting differently in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections?

Or will Odisha follow Andhra Pradesh, voting in new faces in both?

By Aditi Phadnis

“Alliance talks are based on statesmanship,” observed Biju Janata Dal heir apparent and former bureaucrat V K Pandian, in an interview just before the arrangement between the BJD and the Bharatiya Janata Party collapsed and died ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Odisha.

Statesmanship would not appear to be the casualty here: Since then, neither Narendra Modi nor Naveen Patnaik has criticised each other in public meetings.

Mr Modi's target has been the Congress while Mr Patnaik has described his work in the state while asking people to vote the BJD.

The BJP'S state unit's campaign is another matter altogether. It has launched a bitter attack on Mr Pandian, calling him the ‘face of corruption'.

So, while the two top leaders are keeping the door half open and half closed, the BJD –the version headed by Mr Pandian, not Mr Patnaik — is in the BJP's cross-hairs.

Confusing? Not for voters in Odisha, who have shown the most sophisticated sense of discrimination while voting in assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 and the BJP took one. In 2019, the BJD got 12 seats while the BJP got nine.

But in 2019, the BJP was unable to transfer this advantage to assembly seats: The BJD won 112 of the 147 seats. The BJP managed only 23.

While the BJD registered a 12 per cent vote share lead against its closest rival, the BJP reaffirmed its position as the growing alternative party in the coastal parts of the state.

Slice and dice the electoral data and it becomes even more interesting.

Take the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat. The seat was won for the BJP by Aparajita Sarangi (earlier in the Indian Administrative Service), who defeated Arup Patnaik, former Mumbai police commissioner and BJD candidate, by a 30,000 vote margin.

Despite this, the BJP could not win a single assembly segment and had to actually yield one to the Congress (Jatni).

In the Jayadev assembly constituency, it was in third place, with a 40,000 vote gap between it and the BJD — huge in an assembly constituency! Bhubaneswar-North saw the BJD winning by a margin of more than 25,000 votes.

Ekamra Bhubaneswar reported a BJD win by nearly 50,000 votes. The Bhubaneswar-Central, Khurda, and Begunia assembly constituencies also registered unambiguous victory for the BJD. The BJP was nowhere in evidence.

Other constituencies, like Bargarh, tell the same story. The bigger point being made here is: Odisha has cracked it best. It votes for the BJD at state level and BJP at the Centre, and understands clearly what the stakes are. No confusion.

By contrast, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh doesn't exert its grey cells much while voting. Andhra Pradesh also saw simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls as it did in 2019.

Then the YSR Congress, led by Jaganmohan Reddy, stormed to power in the Vidhan Sabha, winning 151 of the 175 seats and 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Nara Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party got just three. Among voters, there was no argument. People wanted Jaganmohan as prime minister and Jaganmohan as chief minister.

Here's the thing: What makes voters vote the way they do?

On the welfare front, Jaganmohan and the YSR Congress hold a stellar record even though the state is badly in debt.

His MPs have frequently tried to flag issues relating to Andhra Pradesh — like the Food Corporation of 's decision to stop buying parboiled rice, leading to serious upheavals in the market.

By contrast, BJD MPs have been good boys, mostly siding with the central government even when they have been adversaries in the state.

Naveen Patnaik continues to be loved and respected, especially among women voters: His efforts to promote women's self-help groups are expected to yield returns.

There is the additional feeling that this could be his last election, so people are ready to back him — for the state. However, in the Lok Sabha, this time the BJP might surpass the BJD.

In Andhra Pradesh, the team that powered Jaganmohan to victory — his mother and sister Y S Sharmila — has broken up. Sharmila contested the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat and Jaganmohan tried to explain why she had to leave his side.

On the other side, despite being kept waiting at the Democratic Alliance door, the TDP forged a biggish alliance comprising the BJP and Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena Party.

The TDP fielded its candidates across 17 Lok Sabha seats, while the BJP and JSP contested six and two seats each. In the Vidhan Sabha, the TDP contested 144, the BJP just 10 and the JSP 21.

Will Andhra Pradesh follow the Odisha model, voting differently in Lok Sabha and assembly elections? Or will Odisha follow Andhra Pradesh, voting in new faces in both? The outcome could have momentous implications for India.



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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