Two weeks after his party conquered Jharkhand, BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday began his two-day tour of Odisha to shore up party fortunes and prepare ground for a BJP government in the state.
“The states where BJP has come to power are already in a mode to be the top state in the country. If a BJP government comes to power in Odisha, we will put in our best to make it the country’s No.1 state,” Shah said at a public meeting here.
The BJP chief asked his party cadres to penetrate deep into the state with their membership drive and strengthen the organisation. “It’s time to materialise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of making India’s eastern states as developed as the western ones,” he said.
Taking a dig at the Naveen Patnaik government, Shah said that just 14% people in the state have access to safe drinking water while 22% have toilets at homes even after 14 years of the Biju Janata Dal rule. “There are hospitals but no doctors; there are schools but no teachers. This will change if BJP comes to power,” he said.
The BJP shared power with the BJD for nine years before Patnaik snapped ties with it in 2009 following apprehensions that the BJP’s hardliner position may be detrimental to its interests.
Since then BJP’s fortunes have been on a decline in the state. But the unearthing of the recent chit fund scam has diminished BJD’s support base and given the saffron party a chance to revive itself in Odisha.
Though the party won just one seat out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, BJP’s vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was 21.5% as against the 16.9% it won in the 2009 polls. On the other hand, the vote share of main opposition Congress dipped 7% in the same period.