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Is BJP Desperate To Dent Into BJD’s Women Vote Bank?

04 January 2019

Debashish Maharana

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Bhubaneswar: Women have always been considered as a decisive vote bank in Odisha. Be it the Assembly elections, Lok Sabha, panchayat elections, municipal polls, or the by-polls for that matter, over the past decade, specific preferences among women voters were discernible.

Thanks to the spectacular success of the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the State, not only is there a greater preference among women voters for Naveen Patnaik-headed BJD, over the years, Odisha has also witnessed greater electoral participation by women.

Not only has women’s turnout risen, it is important to note that women have also outnumbered men in voting in several formats of elections. BJD has also banked on the women force, by giving tickets and nominating them to key posts in governance.

"Women comprise a significant vote bank of BJD. Be it the Puri programme scheduled on January 5 or schemes launched for empowerment of SHGs in the past, BJD has always made the right move to swing women's confidence in its favour," senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty said.

The BJP, on the other hand, is yet to make a visible mark to bargain for the women’s vote bank in Odisha. The saffron party is leaving no stones unturned to etch into the territory.

This is being assumed from BJP leader Aparajita Sarangi’s remarks at a press meet yesterday here in which she has tried to rake up the issues of Mission Shakti and women empowerment as well as their safety and security in Odisha.

BJD Spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, "Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has adopted a multi-pronged approach for development and empowerment of women in Odisha. BJP may resort to tantrums, but we are assured that women will never be swayed by the saffron party's canards."

If the level of participation is an issue, turnout among women is much higher than that among young voters. More than the youth, it is women voters who can play a vital role in the electoral success of a political party.

"The manner in which Aparajita Sarangi is being projected in Odisha, BJP is certainly trying to dent into this vote bank. However, this is going to be an uphill task for the saffron party, Mohanty added.

It may be significant to mention here that BJD has been the harbinger in voicing for reservation of women in Parliament and state assemblies. So, it is not ironic that when Odisha BJP is making a desperate effort to mobilize the women votebank in its favour.

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Prasanna Mohanty, Senior Journalist

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Sasmit Patra, BJD Spokesperson