If any regional party in India has ever dominated the political landscape of a State for nearly two decades without any break, it is the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) - the party with difference. The party, founded on this day way back in 1997 in the name of legendary former Chief Minister and architect of modern Odisha, late Biju Patnaik, has completed its glorious 21 years in Odisha. The BJD is now synonymous of faith and hope for 4.5 crore people of Odisha due to its exemplary commitment to the development of the State. With its deep-rooted belief in secularism and value-based politics, the regional outfit has emerged as the most-valued political party in the national politics.
BJD’s Dominance Phenomenal
The dominance of the BJD in the political landscape of Odisha for the last 18 years has been quite phenomenal. The party formed during the most turbulent period of Odisha’s political history, has been the most successful regional party not only in the State but also in India winning every election with huge margins. It has set a new precedence in the era of electoral politics in Odisha with the unprecedented victory march, election after election.
BJD won nine parliamentary seats in the 1998 General Elections. In the 1999 General Elections, it won 10 seats. The party won a majority of seats in the State Legislative Assembly in the 2000 and 2004 elections in alliance with BJP. The party won 11 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 elections. The BJD ended ties with the BJP prior to the 2009 state assembly elections in the aftermath of deadly communal riots in Kandhamal District. It fought the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections alone and won highest number of seats in both the elections than what the alliance had got earlier.
In the past two decades of electoral politics, the BJD set new national trend. In 2014, when the Modi wave was at its peak, it was completely opposite in Odisha. The regional party won 20 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats.
Regional Political Parties in Odisha
The BJD is the only successful regional party in Odisha having ruled the State for nearly 18 years at a stretch. The Ganatantra Parishad was the first regional political party of Odisha founded by Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo in 1950. The party with royal background having former rulers of the erstwhile princely states and landlords as its members, was merged with the Odisha unit of the Swatantra Party in 1962.
Orissa Jana Congress or simply Jana Congress was another regional outfit formed by former Chief Minister late Harekrushna Mahatab in 1966 when he left the Congress. The Jana Congress fared badly in the elections and subsequently merged into the Janata Party in 1977. Legendary Biju Patnaik founded Utkal Congress in 1969 after he left the Congress. The party merged into Janata Party in 1977.
Several other regional parties have also been formed since 2000. Most of them either failed to survive or are struggling for survival. The parties include the Odisha Gana Parishad floated by Bijay Mohapatra, the Aama Odisha Party floated by Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, the Odisha Jan Mancha led by late Pyarimohan Mohapatra and the Koshal Kranti Dal.
Naveen the Sole Driving Force