Pradeep Pattanayak

During his recent two-day Odisha visit, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion about forming government in Odisha in 2024 has infused life into the state BJP unit, which appears to have been a bit down in the dumps since its debacle in Panchayat and urban body elections. 

The immediate impact of his visit is quite discernable as the spirit of all, starting from the top leaders to workers on the lower rung, has been lifted. 

“Gujarat is a non-Hindi speaking state, and the BJP is ruling there. The BJP is also ruling in Karnataka and Maharashtra. The party will rule in Odisha as well.” Shah’s these words have left party leaders and workers energised. 

Expressing his displeasure over the party’s weak organisational structure in the state, Shah gave workers a success mantra. 

According to party sources, Shah took strong exception to the party in the state winning fewer seats in Panchayat elections in 2022 as compared to 2017 and not implementing the tasks assigned. He said to put up a strong fight; the organisational structure should be strengthened at the village, ward and booth levels. 

Shah also advised that an MLA and MP should take responsibility for three Assembly constituencies and two Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. 

Laying emphasis on taking the message of Odisha’s woman Draupadi Murmu becoming the first citizen of India to each and every house and getting every wall painted with a lotus, Shah also ruled out any negotiation with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). He advised creating an anti-government wave across the state. 

“He (Shah) has advised us to work at booth level in a planned way. He also said the party’s coming into power largely depends on the sincere efforts of the workers and it’s time our government came to power in Odisha,” said BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi. 

State BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said, “He (Shah) has advised us to start the process to complete Mission 120. The BJP will fight this battle as a decisive battle.”

In its reaction to the BJP’s assertion about forming government in Odisha, the BJD said the saffron party is only building castles in the air. 

“As long as Naveen Patnaik is here, there will be none but conch party. They (BJP) are daydreaming,” said BJD MLA Sudam Marndi. 

At the same time, the state unit of Congress said the impact of Shah’s visit will be visible in the 2024 election. 

“It also needs to be clarified whether 120 is jointly (BJP and BJD) or individually,” said OPCC chief Sarat Pattanayak wryly. 

Political pundits have started speculating the good relationship developed and existed between the BJD and BJP following the 2019 election may run into rough weather from now onwards. 

“The equation between the two parties (BJP and BJD) witnessed over these three years wouldn’t continue. Keeping the election in view, they may become aggressive,” observed K Ravi, a senior journalist.