Amit Shah to visit western Odisha to reclaim party’s citadel; bolster morale of party-men

By A K Sahoo

Bhawanipatna, April 3: Perceivably shocked over and shaken by the crushing defeat of party in the Bijepur assembly bypoll in western Odisha in the hands Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to preempt any further such setbacks in the region.

The BJP national president Amit Shah is arriving here on Wednesday to address massive public rally. On Thursday, he would address another rally at Bolangir.

Western Odisha, once considered as the citadel of the BJP in Odisha, has slipped into the hands of the BJD since 2009. The party which used to win over 30 of the 64 assembly seats in this region since 2000, has failed to win even double-digit number of seats in 2009 and 2014 seats polls. While it won six seats from the region in 2008, it currently has 8 of the total 10 legislators from the area.

The party has got one Lok Sabha seat from the region, Sudaragarh, – represented by Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram.

What has shocked the saffron party the most that while it was staying course to reclaim its position in the area, – it lost the Bijepur bypoll despite making all sincere efforts.

Analysts point out that Mr Shah’s visit would surely bolster the morale of the party leaders and workers in the area.

“In the panchayat elections held last year, the BJP rode high in western Odisha as the people are frustrated with present Naveen Patnaik government dispensation. The mood against the administration still continues. The Bijepur setback, which was largely due to BJD’s election management, is a temporary phenomenon. Amit Shah knows the strategy how to overcome this and bring the party on the track again,” the analysts maintain.

Speaking on Mr Shah’s visit, BJP Legislature Party Leader in Odisha Legislative Assembly Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo said the party president was visiting the state as a part of his plan to cover all the 21 Lok Sabha seats before the 2019 polls.

“Amit Shaha ji has announced to cover all the 21 Lok Sabha seats before the 2019 polls are held. The present visit is a part of his plan of action,” said Mr Singhdeo.

The BJD on the other hand is planning to ensure that Mr Shah’s Odisha trips does not make noise in the media, allowing the saffron party to score some brownie points. Marking the Wednesday public meeting of the BJP chief, the regional party has planned a big joining ceremony at Berhampur in south Odisha where former Union minister and senior Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu and several others will join the party.

In the past few months, a few BJP leaders have joined the BJD and it is apprehended some more are waiting for green signal from the BJD chief Naveen Patnaik to join his party.

Meanwhile,  BJD said Shah’s  Odisha visit will have no impact in State.

BJD spokesperson and former Minister Arun Sahoo told reporters in Bhubaneswar that his visit would have no impact on the ruling BJD’s prospect in the next Assembly election.

He also wanted to know from the saffron party about the party’s poll promises.

“Where has their promises to provide employment to 2 crore youths every year gone? BJP president should share success mantra on how the turnover of company owned by his son ‘grew’ exponentially,” Sahoo asked.

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