New Delhi: It’s not just in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal where the BJP’s poll strategy has failed to work so far. Even in Odisha, the saffron party has remained unsuccessful to unseat the Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik despite its vote share and organisational base increasing significantly since 2014. Despite the “anti-incumbency”, however, Mr Patnaik’s popularity remains unmatchable as the BJP faces a leadership crisis in the state.
While all eyes are on the coming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, the BJP leadership is trying to put its house in order in Odisha, where panchayat polls are likely to be held in February and the saffron party continues to battle factionalism. The coming rural body elections are considered as a semi-final before the 2024 Assembly polls.
During the 2017 rural body polls, the BJP had taken over the role of the main Opposition from the Congress, forcing Mr Patnaik to overhaul his organisation and take some “corrective measures” to check the BJP.
While the BJP has engaged its organisational machinery for the coming polls, the saffron poll managers are also busy containing factionalism in the state unit and trying hard to put up a united face.
After retaining power in 2019 by a thumping majority, the BJD has been focusing in areas where the BJP gained in the rural polls and has been targeting its grassroot leaders.
The BJP has also so far not been able to aggressively take up any issue against Mr Patnaik and his government despite its claims about anti-incumbency and misgovernance in the state. At a time when the ruling party is reaching out to voters with its “achievements”, the BJP top brass, it was learnt, had to engage some of its state leaders to counter the growing speculation that the party top brass could promote one of the Union ministers for the 2024 Assembly polls and also that all the three Union ministers from the state in the Narendra Modi government have been allotted “important portfolios”.
The tenure of elected representatives of all rural bodies across the state will end on March 10, 2022....