BJP appears keen to accomplish its ‘Mission Odisha’ this time, lines up top leaders to take on 'unbeatable Naveen

Bhubaneswar: Apart aiming to add to its 2019 tally of 8 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which in the past squandered many opportunities to form government in Odisha on its own strength, seems to be quite keen this time to capture power in the state, bringing an end to the 24 years of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) rule.

The party has lined up a battery of top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda, defence minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief MinisterYogi Adityanath to campaign in the state.

Amit Shah, who addressed a massive public rally in Sonepur in Western Odisha on Thursday, is likely to visit the state again early next month.

Senior BJP leader Samir Mohanty on Friday said party national president JP Nadda will visit Odisha on Sunday and address a public rally at Berhampur in Ganjam district to add more firepower to the campaign.

After the event in Berhampur, Nadda will attend a meeting of party leaders in Nabarangpur, said Mohanty.

Both Berhampur and Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seats are poised for an interesting fight in the upcoming polls. BJP has nominated Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi, an ex-BJD leader, for Berhampur constituency while the BJD has fielded former BJP leader Bhrugu Baxipatra.

In Nabarangpur, the BJD has nominated Pradeep Majhi, who had won the 2009 polls from the constituency on a Congress ticket. Similarly, the BJP had fielded Balabhadra Majhi, who had defeated Pradeep Majhi in the constituency in 2014 elections as BJD nominee.

BJP state headquarters sources said the party is in the process of negotiation with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office for suitable dates for his campaigning in Odisha.

The PM, just before the election schedule was announced, had addressed two public rallies in Odisha – one at Sambalpur and the other at Chandikhole in Jajpur district.

Though the saffron party has been trying to grab power in the state since 2009 when it was ejected by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from an 11-year-old alliance with the BJD, it has not succeeded as yet, largely because it failed to make a dent into the regional party’s women vote bank.

Nearly, 70 lakh women who are the state government’s Mission Shakti programme’s members, are standing rock solid behind the BJD in every electoral hustings. Besides, old-age, widow and physically-challenged pensions as well as ration-card holders also form a sizable chunk of the BJD’s vote bank.

Naveen Patnaik, who became the CM of Odisha for the first time in 2000, has won five successive assembly polls.

In the 2019 general elections, the BJP won 8 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and succeeded in pocketing 23 of the 147 assembly seats.

Amit Shah, who was then the BJP national president, had set a target of 120-plus assembly seats. However, as political analysts put it, Shah’s target fell flat as the party state unit lacked cadre strength at the grassroots.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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