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Sikkim and Odisha

The Bharatiya Janata Party has made little or no impact here though it had accused Mr Patnaik of “betraying” Bijepur by vacating the western Odisha seat.

Editorial | New Delhi |

Astriking feature of the outcome of the recent string of by-elections must be the inroad made by the Bharatiya Janata Party into Sikkim. In league with its ally, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), it is poised to make its presence felt in the Himalayan state, having won two of the three Assembly seats where by-elections were held. Indeed, the result signifies the first electoral success of the BJP, which secured barely two per cent of the votes in the Assembly elections last April. The psephological swing is, therefore, remarkable.

With the twin victories, the BJP’s strength in the 32-member Assembly has risen to 12, while the ally SKM’s tally totals 19. Markedly, the BJP had forged an alliance with the ruling party. Having wooed the Opposition, it is also the second largest party in the state, an unprecedented electoral development in Sikkim. The BJP’s maiden victory in the state is embedded in the incumbent Chief Minister, PS Tamang’s eligibility to contest an election and the former Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling’s uncertainty over his political future. Thus was the BJP able to use its electoral skills.

The BJP exploited the predicament of its rivals by engineering defections of ten Sikkim Democratic Front MLAs with the blessings of Chamling and then forcing the SKM to go in for a tie-up for the byelections. The SDF’s vote-share has suffered a dramatic decline in all the three constituencies ~ Martam- Rumtek, the capital Gangtok and Paklok-Kamrang. This would suggest that the party’s political fortunes are on the decline. It will, therefore, be hard for the party to recover its lost ground. And the support base has suffered an erosion in its own turf.

Though a different picture emerges in a swathe of Odisha, striking too has been the victory of the Biju Janata Dal in Bijepur. Indeed, the triumph of Rita Sahu, nominated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and no less, has been spectacular ~ she has registered a 97,000-plus vctory margin. Thus has she surpassed the margin of the BJD leader in the Assembly election earlier this year. The Chief Minister’s victorty margin in Bijepur was 57,122. It is difficult to recall a higher victory margin in Odisha than the one secured by Ms Sahu.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has made little or no impact here though it had accused Mr Patnaik of “betraying” Bijepur by vacating the western Odisha seat. That “betrayal” was in fact the BJP’s campaign plank, but now as it turns out to no effect, specifically what the saffronites called the “betrayal of the people”. The campaign has cut no ice. There is ittle doubt that the wave in favour of Mr Patnaik has not been affected. Biju Janata Dal has not only held onto its fort, but has strengthened the same in a formidable measure.