BJP eyes eastern push; Odisha in focus
Bhubaneswar, April 15: The Bharatiya Janata Party has already begun its preparations to bloom the lotus in the state in right earnest, even as Odisha assembly elections are two years away.
Elated by its stunning victory in the recently concluded assembly polls and also performing exceedingly well in the Odisha panchayat polls, the BJP is planning to focus on the coastal state of Odisha, where the saffron party begins its two-day national executive meeting on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived here on Saturday, is to hold an eight-km road show from the airport to Raj Bhawan.
At the airport, state unit leaders will give a grand welcome to Modi. At least 300 cultural troupes across the state will perform during the road show.
"Apart from the road show Modi will also visit the Sri Lingaraj temple to offer prayers," state BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma told a news agency.
The Lingaraja Temple is dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu, and is one of the oldest and revered temples in Bhubaneswar.
The Prime Minister will also be welcomed by a group of tribal students at Janata Maidan before arriving at the venue of the BJP meet - Sant Kavi Bheem Bhoi Sabhagar here.
Modi is to felicitate members of 16 families associated with the Paika rebellion of 1817 during the meet. Paika rebellion is considered as the first armed mutiny against the British rule in the state. The move is expected to boost the BJP's standing in the state.
The capital city has been decked up for the meet with roads getting a facelift and hoardings, banners and flags seen all over.
In most of the hoardings and banners Modi and party chief Amit Shah figure prominently, while in some Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Juel Oram - who hail from the state - also find place.
The two-day meet would formally begin with the Presidential speech of Shah while on Sunday the concluding remarks will be delivered by Modi.
On Saturday, Shah will also hold a national office bearers meet.
In 1998, the BJP held its national executive meet here and after that the saffron party joined hands with state's now ruling Biju Janata Dal. In 1998, the NDA formed its government at the Centre under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee and the BJD joined the government.
Later, the BJP-BJD alliance formed government in the state. After some time, differences appeared in the alliance and BJD parted ways with the NDA.
Since then the BJP has been working hard to spread its wings in the state.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, despite the Modi wave in many parts of the country, the BJP could manage to win only one seat from Odisha.
The party's unexpected performance in the Panchayat polls has raised hopes in the BJP that under the leadership of Modi and Shah - and also the undeclared face of the party in the state Dharmendra Pradhan - it could come to power and increase its tally in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.