BJP looks up to Panda for killer punch in Odisha

Analysts say Panda entry into the BJP will help the party to benefit from mass contact campaign.

After inducting some top Cong and BJD leaders, the BJP has emerged a strong contender for power in the state. Panda, who has a support base across the state, has given extra strength to the saffron party in its fight against the ruling BJD.

Bhubaneswar: As general elections and Assembly polls in Odisha draw closer, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which until recently appeared struggling to match the poll preparation of the ruling BJD, seems to have got some new strength to accomplish its 120-plus (120 Assembly seats) mission.

After enrolling some top leaders from the Congress and BJD, the party has emerged a strong contender for power in the state. The saffron party which wooed former minister and veteran Congress leader Padmalochan Panda; ex-BJD MLAs Ramaranjan Baliarsingh and Sidhartha Sekhar Singh and senior bureaucrat Aparajita Sarangi in the recent past, got a major shot in the arm when Baijayant Jay Panda, one of the founder members of the BJD and two-time Lok Sabha member from Kendrapara joined the party on March 4.

Seen in political circles as a progressive face, Mr Panda's entry has give extra strength and traction while confronting the ruling BJD which is firmly entrenched among voters, largely due to its rolling out sops encompassing all sections.

Popular among people critics for his philanthropic works, Baijayant has his support base across the state. His bitter political critics even admire in private his social works.

Analysts say Mr Panda entry into the BJP will help the latter to benefit from mass contact campaign - 'Parivartan Heijau' (Let change happen in Odisha). Under the campaign, the former lawmaker has crisscrossed almost all parts of the state seeking their feedback on different issues and suggestions for change for better governance.

Experts also proffer the argument that the BJP now stands get "natural support" of OTV, Odisha's number one news channel whose viewership is almost double than the combined audience of remaining channels.

The BJP has been very meticulously executing its plan to deny the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD a fifth consecutive term.

In its first-phase campaign, the party consolidated its cadre strength in around 36,000 booths in the state under Mo Booth Sabuthu Mazbhoot (my booth is the strongest one). Once the process was complete, the party launched Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah in the campaign trail. Both the top leaders addressed more than half-a-dozen public meetings in which they presented the amount of central funds and new projects given to the state.

This phase saw the BJP, as per its calculation, stealing considerable amount of steam from the BJD's allegation of "perennial central negligence."

The second phase - Jabab Maguchhi Odisha (Odisha seeks answers) - marked the party seeking answers from the BJD on non-execution and stalling of several central government schemes and projects. According to Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan many central projects could not be executed because of deliberate dilly-dallying by the latter.

The minister says projects worth '1.36 lakh crore have been stalled as the state government does not provide land and other statutory clearances.

"Several central government projects and state projects funded by the Union government have been deliberately stalled by the Naveen Patnaik government. The ruling BJD fears if all the projects will be successfully executed, all credits will go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the minister said while interacting with the media persons here.

The stalled projects belonged to different sectors petroleum and natural gas ('51,395 crore) road transport and highways ('56,563 crore), railways ('12,286 crore), non-petroleum investment ('15,413 crore), health and education (560 crore) and tourism and heritage ('200 crore), adds the minister.

The third phase - Vijay Sankalpa Abhiyana - launched on Wednesday aims at carrying out the message of the Narendra Modi government's heroic fights against the terror and commitment towards the development of the poor.

Under the Vijay Sankalpa Abhiyan, the state BJP has planned to organize five thousand meetings in eight days (March 10 to 17) across the state.

"Under the Vijay Sankalpa Abhiyan, we will seek people mandate for re-electing Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India and removing the corrupt Naveen Patnaik government for power," adds Odisha state BJP general secretary Prithwiraj Harichandan.

The BJP camp in Odisha is quite upbeat about testing power in state in 2019 polls as it fared well in the rural polls held in 2017. The party's vote share saw a significant jump from 18 per cent votes in 2014 assembly polls to In 33 per cent in 2017 rural polls, making it the second largest power after the ruling BJD whose vote share now stands a little above 42 per cent. The Congress slipped to 18 per cent, nearly 6 per cent less than 2014 Assembly elections vote share.

Next Story