Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With the 2024 General Elections approaching, major political parties in Odisha are focusing on Western Odisha. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Sambalpur on February 3, Rahul Gandhi will visit Western Odisha in mid-February. Moreover, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will inaugurate the Samalei project on January 27. All three main political parties in the State- BJD, BJP, and Congress have formed special strategies to win the Western Odisha battle in the upcoming election.

Maa Samaleswari, the presiding Goddess of Sambalpur, occupies a unique place in the hearts of people in the western part of the State. The ruling BJD is trying to improve its vote bank in Western Odisha by implementing the Samalei project.

“Naveen Patnaik government is giving priority to the development of Western Odisha. The way Samaleswari temple has been transformed under the Samalei project is pretty impressive and innovative,” said BJD leader, Debi Prasad Mishra.

On the other hand, PM Modi will try to woo voters by sharing his vision and dreams about Odisha in public meetings during his Sambalpur visit on February 3rd. Leaders and workers of the saffron party in the State are encouraged and excited ahead of PM Modi’s upcoming visit.

The BJP is currently occupying as many as five MP seats in Western Odisha. The party has prepared a special strategy to win more Assembly seats in Western Odisha in the upcoming election.

“Lakhs of people will congregate in the public meetings to be addressed by PM Modi. Elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the meetings,” said Odisha BJP President, Manmohan Samal.

Meanwhile, the Congress is also not much behind. The grand old party is trying its best to strengthen its organisation in Western Odisha. The party leaders and workers are hopeful that Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Western Odisha on February 14 will revive the party’s chances. Prior to that, senior members of the party will embark on bus journeys through Western Odisha and sensitise the people about the failures of the State government and the Union government.

“BJP and BJD are trying to do vote bank politics through religious polarization. Odisha people will not accept them at all. Whoever comes to Odisha will have no impact on the people,” said Odisha Congress President, Sarat Pattanayak.

With the 2024 General Elections in Odisha just three months away, politics in the State has intensified. While the Opposition parties are focusing on the seats that they had lost by close margins in the last election, the ruling party is putting emphasis on the seats in which the influence of Opposition parties has increased.

Meanwhile, as per political analysts, PM Modi’s visit to Sambalpur may influence the voters in Western Odisha in the upcoming elections. According to them, to counter the BJP’s strategy, BJD is trying to win the confidence of the people by inaugurating the Samalei project.

“The entire people of Odisha will be keen to know the viewpoints of PM Modi on the Odisha government and the ruling party. It will play a key role in influencing the voting pattern in Odisha,” said political analyst, Prasanna Mohanty.

Moreover, while the BJP has strengthened its position in Western Odisha, internal strife will be a huge challenge for the BJD. It remains to be seen how much advantage the BJP and Congress can get out of it.