PM Narendra Modi’s BJP plans big for Odisha
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will give another determined push next month to expand its footprint in Odisha – a state where it is giving jitters to ally-turned-foe Naveen Patnaik.india Updated: Mar 27, 2017 17:45 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will give another determined push next month to expand its footprint in Odisha – a state where it is giving jitters to ally-turned-foe Naveen Patnaik.
More than 300 top BJP leaders will hold a two-day conclave in chief minister Patnaik’s backyard – Bhubaneswar – to discuss recent victories and future challenges.
The April 15-16 meeting of the BJP’s national executive in Odisha’s capital coincides with party’s stunning show in the panchayat elections there last month.
The BJP managed to push the Congress as a distant third party and emerge as the principal challenge to Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Of the 846 zila parishad seats for which polls were held in five phases from February 13, the BJD won 473 seats and the BJP 297. The Congress was left with just 60 seats. In the last Odisha panchayat elections held in 2012, the BJD had won 654 seats, followed by the Congress with 128, and the BJP 36 seats out of 854 seats.
The BJP’s had first smelled success in the Lok Sabha election when it polled 21.88% votes and closely trailed the Congress that got 26.38%.
The saffron party now wants to capitalise on its gains in Odisha, one of the states that it has targeted to win in 2019 when the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections will be held simultaneously.
Patnaik has been in power since 2000 and is, possibly, facing anti-incumbency. There is a complete generation that has grown up seeing Patnaik in the hot seat and might be craving for a change.
The BJP is at its peak in several states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. The party wants to offset any loss in these states in 2019 with gains in new areas.
With Modi’s popularity driving the BJP to greener pastures, party president Amit Shah is meticulously adding muscles to the organisation in Odisha.
At the party’s conclave in Kozhikode last year, Shah had assigned tasks to BJP leaders to win new areas; such as northeast, Odisha, west Bengal and southern states. He will take a stock of the progress made on this front at the Bhubaneswar conclave.