Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set its eyes on Odisha in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. To compensate for the lack of influential leaders in these regions, the BJP says its doors were open for leaders from other political parties and celebrities.
BJP plans to use its National Executive Meet this weekend in Bhubaneswar as an initiation for its future plans of winning seats in states on the Coromandel coast and the east, to ensure another term for the NaMo Government in 2019.
After holding its national executive meet in Kozhikode, Kerala, in September last year, the saffron party is eyeing east India with a conclave in Odisha.
BJP sources said the top leadership chose Bhubaneshwar as the venue as the party was looking at the state with renewed hope after its impressive performance in the recent local bodies elections in Odisha. Recently, Odisha’s ruling party BJD Lok Sabha member Tathagata Satpathy alleged that the BJP was trying to drive a wedge in his party. Later, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik blamed the BJP for fueling such “false” reports.
BJP has virtually replaced Congress as the principal opposition and is now striving to defeat BJD in the 2019 assembly elections. BJP leaders feel the party may not win some of the seats it did in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its peak and there was strong anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA.
In 2019, BJP and its allies will have to win new Lok Sabha seats to form the Government and this has made the party look at states in the south as well as the east and northeast. Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who enjoys proximity to BJP chief Amit Shah, had been keen that the national executive be held in Bhubaneshwar. The BJP has identified 120-seats in the northeastern Coromandel coast states for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, to compensate for any losses it might suffer in its strongholds in northern and western India. Pradhan said the BJP’s electoral victories in Assam and Manipur, and recent success in Odisha panchayat polls, were evidence of the party’s increasing popularity in its non-traditional areas. Pradhan said the recent panchayat elections have proven that the BJP has emerged as the main opposition to the ruling BJD in Odisha, with Congress pushed to the third place. The Bhubaneswar national executive would set the contours of the Modi government’s programmes and policies, as well as that of the BJP’s for the next two years. The focus would be to celebrate the success of three years of the Modi government’s ‘garib kalyan’, or welfare of the poor, agenda.
Shah has been paying special attention to Odisha in the last few months. He had plans of spending three days — April 23-26 — in the state to meet party workers. It was cancelled when the decision to hold the meet was taken.
Shah is likely to meet booth level workers in groups in the coming months. While no public meeting of PM Modi will be held after the April 15-16 national executive gets over, he will meet members of 16 families which had participated in the first organised revolt against Britishers in 1817.