Mrunal Manmay Dash

With less than a year left before Odisha goes to elections in 2024, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have tightened its seatbelt for an intense contest with special focus on the Western Odisha region.

BJP’s renewed conviction to give a tough fight to the BJD in Odisha was evident after party president, JP Nadda arrived again in Odisha for a two-day visit.

Nadda landed at Jharsuguda airport on Thursday afternoon following which, BJP leaders including Parliamentarians, Suresh Pujari, Jual Oram and Odisha BJP chief, Manmohan Samal received him and accompanied him to the party office in the district.

Bargarh MP, Suresh Pujari said, “Nadda is the top leader in our organisation. So the members are naturally excited to hear him speak. He has come here to lay the foundation stone of the double-engine government in Odisha.”

At the Jharsuguda office, he addressed around 200 party members from seven Assembly Constituencies under the Bargarh Parliamentary segment on ways to strengthen the party from grassroots level.

Nadda will move to Bhawanipatna on Friday where he is scheduled to hold a huge public meeting.

It is pertinent to mention here that the State BJP brass have already sharpened their voice against the BJD by targeting CM Naveen Patnaik and the 5T Secretary.

And with Nadda’s visit to Bhawanipatna, it is speculated that he will be quite vocal against the State government too. While the BJP is terming the visit of Nadda as a turning point for State, the BJD and Congress do not seem to be perturbed by his visit.

“Odisha government is the most corrupt government in the country. Nadda’s visit will definitely affect the minds of people in a time like this. The suppressed dissatisfaction and growing dissent against the BJD government will surely result in an explosion this election,” asserted State BJP chief, Manmohan Samal.

BJD Vice-President, Prasanna Acharya said, “They will come to activate their members before election. It is a natural process. We do not have anything to say on their preparations. But as far as BJD is concerned, we are an all-weather party and believe to stay connected with people on the ground 365 days a year. So, it will not affect us in any manner.”

The Congress however was a bit more critical on Nadda’s Odisha visit. Senior Congress leader, Jayadev Jena said, “Last time he had come to Odisha, he did not even take names of leaders and bureaucrats against whom he vented out his anger. So, I do not expect anything different this time too.

Following the public address at Bhawanipatna, Nadda is scheduled to speak with party members of Kalahandi Parliamentary Constituency. Sources said, BJP is trying to make western-Odisha its fort for 2024 elections. That is why the region is on its agenda.

In 2019, the BJP had won five Lok Sabha seats in western Odisha.