Along with the Lok Sabha election 2024, Odisha (formerly Orissa) is one of the few states where Assembly Elections are taking place simultaneously in four phases. The political landscape of Odisha is quite dynamic and has seen significant changes over the years. Odisha operates under a multi-party system. The major parties include the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the regional and socialist Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In the last 32 years, Odisha has seen 11 Chief Ministers.

Let us see the Caste and Political parties influence in Odisha’s politics.

  1. Patnaik Caste in Politics: Patnaiks, with variations in spelling, belong to the ‘Karan’ caste. Another prominent surname from the community is Mohanty. They comprise around 2% of the state’s population. Such is their prominence in Odisha’s politics that many refer to them as “political caste” by many.

Just three individuals from two Patnaik families—Janaki Ballav (JB), Biju, and the latter’s son Naveen—have governed the state as chief ministers for 45 years out of the 77 since Independence.

Naveen Patnaik, seeking a sixth term in office, has been at the helm since March 2000. His father, Biju Patnaik, was Odisha’s CM from 1961 to 1963 and 1990 to 1995. JB Patnaik also governed the state for 14 years.

Another Karan, Nabakrushna Chaudhary (1950-1952 and 1952 to 1956) was CM for six years.

2. Other Cases in Politics: Although, Odisha’s political leadership has largely been occupied by forward castes. However, there have been exceptions too. Other CMs include largely Brahmins, some Rajputs, barring Nilamani Routray (OBC, 1977-1980), and two tribals Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang. The total tenure of Hemananda (Dec 1989-March 1990, Dec 1999-March 2000) and Giridhar (Feb 1999 to Dec 1999) as CM was 14 months.

“Karans and Brahmins together comprise less than 10% of the population but continue to dominate Odisha’s politics and business”.

Nilamani Routray, an OBC, held the position from 1977 to 1980.

Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang, both tribals, had shorter tenures as CMs.

The state has around 22.8% tribals and 17% Scheduled Castes while the OBCs constitute 54% of the state’s population.

It is noteworthy that the caste-based voting has not been a significant factor in Odisha politics. Unlike some other states, voters here do not align en bloc along caste lines.

3. Political Parties and their influence in Odisha politics:

Odisha Legislative Assembly: The state legislature has 147 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

  • 33 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST)
  • 24 seats for the Scheduled Castes (SC)

Lok Sabha Representation: Odisha is represented by 21 members in the Lok Sabha. Among these, 13 are unreserved while the remaining seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) categories

Rajya Sabha Representation: Odisha is represented by 10 members.

The political scenario in Odisha is influenced by various factors, including regional aspirations, development issues, and the interplay between national and regional parties. As the 2024 elections approach, these dynamics are likely to evolve further, shaping the future political landscape of the state.

  • BJD’s Dominance: The BJD, a regional party with a socialist leaning, has been the most influential force in Odisha politics for several years. Led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, it has been the dominant force in Odisha’s politics for several years. The party has won consecutive Odisha Legislative Assembly elections and has maintained a strong position in the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a national party has developed significant influence in Odisha. It has been working to expand its base in the state and has been a key competitor against the BJD. The BJP’s performance in Odisha has been improving, especially in the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Indian National Congress (INC) has a historical presence in Odisha and has been a major player in the state’s politics. Although its influence has waned in recent years, the Congress continues to be an important part of the political discourse.
  • Other Parties: Apart from these major parties, there are other national and regional parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that have a presence in the state. While their impact is limited compared to the BJD, BJP, and INC, they contribute to the political diversity of the state.
  • BJP and BJD Relationship: Historically, the BJP and BJD have been both allies and rivals. They formed a coalition government in 2000, but their alliance collapsed in 2009 following ideological differences that emerged after the communal riots in Kandhamal district.

Yet again, both have come together for 2024 elections.

BJP: The party is likely to contest on 11-12 Lok Sabha seats.

BJD: The BJD may contest on 9-10 Lok Sabha seats as part of the seat-sharing deal1.

This arrangement comes after the alliance talks, which initially faced hurdles primarily over seat-sharing ratios. The BJD sought to contest over 100 seats in the 147-member Odisha Assembly, which the BJP found unacceptable. Conversely, the BJP sought 14 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, a demand rejected by the BJD.

In the end, both parties have decided to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections together, with the BJP likely taking a slightly larger share of the Lok Sabha seats. This alliance marks a significant political development in Odisha, considering the historical context of their past coalition and subsequent rivalry

4. Manifestos this Election:

BJP’s Manifesto Highlights

  • Economic Growth: Focus on boosting the state’s economy through industrial development and entrepreneurship programs.
  • Infrastructure: Investment in infrastructure, including roads, ports, and urban development.
  • Agriculture: Emphasis on modernizing agriculture and increasing farmer income.
  • Education: Proposals to improve the quality of education and increase access to educational institutions.
  • Healthcare: Commitment to enhancing healthcare facilities and services across the state.

BJD’s Manifesto Highlights:

  • Youth Empowerment: A special budget for youth, with a promise of Rs 1 lakh crore over the next decade for youth-related programs.
  • Free Electricity: Up to 100 units of free electricity for households and subsidized rates for consumption between 100 to 150 units.
  • Scholarships: Annual scholarships of Rs 14,000 for female graduates and Rs 12,000 for male graduates.
  • Middle-Class Support: Interest subvention on home loans up to Rs 20 lakh and scholarships for children’s education.
  • Cultural Promotion: Rs 100 crore set aside for the promotion of the Odia language.
  • Healthcare Expansion: Extension of the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) to include more beneficiaries

Both parties have outlined their vision for Odisha’s development, with the BJP focusing on a broad range of issues from economic growth to healthcare, while the BJD has placed a strong emphasis on youth empowerment and social welfare schemes.

5. Current Scenario caste wise: Patnaiks dominate leadership positions in the opposition rank and files as well. Congress state unit president Sarat Pattanayak and its election coordination committee chief Bijay Patnaik, a former chief secretary, are from the Karan caste though from different clans.

  • Members of Congress strongman JB’s clan are also fighting polls.
  • JB’s son, Pruthvi Ballav is seeking to make his political debut from Begunia on a Congress ticket. JB’s son-in-law, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has entered the fray from Ghasipura assembly seat as an Independent.
  • Soumya, a media baron, was elected BJD MLA in 2019. His elder brother Niranjan Patnaik, a former Odisha Congress chief, has been contesting from the Bhandaripokhari assembly seat.
  • Though the current state BJP chief Manmohan Samal and party’s prominent Odisha face Dharmendra Pradhan belong to OBCs, Samir Mohanty, who was earlier the state BJP chief, is a Karan. Two notable figures in BJP, Aparajita Sarangi and Baijayant Panda, are Brahmins.

6. Current Scenario political party wise:

  • Biju Janata Dal (BJD): The BJD, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is facing a 25-year anti-incumbency. Despite this, the party enjoys a strong foothold in the state, and Naveen Patnaik’s personal popularity remains high. The BJD is looking to secure a record sixth term in office.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): The BJP is seen as the principal opposition and is poised for big gains in Odisha. The party is capitalizing on the anti-incumbency factor and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP is confident of increasing its tally in both the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats.
  • Indian National Congress (INC): The Congress party, which has been out of power since 2000, is attempting a comeback. It’s focusing on rebuilding its presence and appealing to voters with its national policies and state-specific promises.

Other Parties: While the BJD and BJP are the main contenders, other parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are also in the fray, though their impact is expected to be limited compared to the major parties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Previous Post


    Next Post