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BJD returns to power in Odisha for fifth straight term

Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Friday scripted history with a landslide victory to form the government for a record fifth term in a row bagging 112 of the 146 assembly seats despite the Modi wave in the country.

The BJD, which had grabbed the lion’s share of 117 of the 147 assembly seats in the 2014 assembly polls, remained largely untouched by the Modi magic that swept across the country though its tally saw a marginal slide.

The BJP, however, has made substantial gains in Odisha this time with its nominees clinching 23 seats so far, while the Congress has bagged just nine. The CPI(M) and an Independent have bagged one seat each.

The saffron party is now poised to emerge as the main opposition in the state. However, unlike in most other states where the BJP and its allies look like they are in firm command, the party will be a feeble opposition in Odisha.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who steered his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to another emphatic win in the assembly polls held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections, has pocketed his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district as well as the Bijepur seat in Bargarh district of west Odisha.

Having led the BJD to a stellar performance at the hustings in which the regional party grabbed a three fourth majority in the assembly, Patnaik is now all set to take oath as chief minister for a fifth straight term breaking the record he had himself set in the state.

The BJD supremo, who has been at the helm in Odisha since 2000, had earlier crossed milestones set by leaders like J B Patnaik and Harekrushna Mahatab who ruled the state thrice each. Polling was held in 146 of the state’s 147 assembly seats as election in Patkura was postponed twice, first after the death of a candidate and then due to Cyclone Fani.

As Patnaik powered his regional party to a spectacular victory, most of its ministers inlcuding S N Patro, Usha Devi, Bikram Keshari Arukh, Prafulla Samal and Nrusingha Sahu registered thumping victories.

Government chief whip and former minister Amar Prasad Satpathy won from Barchana assembly seat and minister Prafulla Mallick retained his home turf Kamakhyanagar.

BJD candidate and Rajya Sabha member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, son-in-law of former chief minister J B Patnaik, won the Khandapada seat, defeating nearest Independent candidate Dusmanta Swain by a whopping 81,430 votes – the highest margin in this assembly polls. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had suffered a defeat in Khandapada in 2014 assembly polls by a razor thin margin of 605 votes.

BJD heavyweight and minister Maheswar Mohanty, however, faced poll adverse at the hands of by Jayant Kumar Sarangi of the BJP in Puri assembly seat. Though BJP stalwart and former minister Jai Narayan Mishra trounced sitting BJD MLA Raseshwari Panigrahi in Sambalpur seat, many saffron party stalwarts, including Radharani Panda and Rabi Naik, lost their seats to rivals.

In another major setback to the BJP, its legislature party leader K V Singhdeo failed to retain his Patnagarh seat as he lost to BJD’s Saroj Kumar Meher. The party had ten seats in the outgoing House.

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