Bhubaneswar: As the fourth phase of Panchayat elections ended on Sunday in Odisha and trends indicated that the ruling BJD has suffered losses, party leaders have blamed the setback on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
"It is unfortunate that the party president did not give much emphasis on campaigning. Had he joined campaigning in other places, BJD would have got more votes," agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy told reporters while reacting over the performance of BJD, as per the available trends.
Maharathy's view was backed by BJD vice-president and senior leader S N Patro.
"Patnaik is the superstar for BJD. His participation in campaigning would have been better than any other leader. We will review poll results," he said.
Maharathy, however, was hopeful of performing well in the fifth and final phase of polls.
Patnaik had attended at least 50 election rallies in the 2012 panchayat polls, but this time campaigned only in his own Assembly segment of Hinjili.
The Chief Minister did not address any public rally, preferring to roadshows in two blocks of Hinjili and Seregarh in Ganjam district.
On the other hand, BJP roped in Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das, former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda, Union Ministers Ramkripal Yadav, Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan to bolster support.
For Congress, former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, OPCC president Prasad Harichandan and AICC general secretary in-charge of Odisha B K Hariprasad, campaigned for party candidates.
According to the trends available so far, though BJD continued to remain the single largest party by the end of fourth round of polling, the party lost about 150 Zilla Parishad seats in comparison to the 2012 panchayat elections.
BJD had secured 654 Zilla Parishad seats out of a total 854 seats in 2012, while Congress bagged 128 seats and BJP 36. This time the trend suggests BJD has lost several Zilla Parishad seats to BJP.
From just 36 seats last time, BJP claimed to have secured about 200 seats by the end of third phase of polling.
Trends also indicate that the state's main opposition party Congress has also lost many seats to BJP.
Though counting of votes in Odisha Panchayat elections are held soon after polling gets over, the State Election Commission has not formally announced the results for the polls held so far and has said the results would be declared only after completion of the entire five phase of polling.