Himansu Shekhar Rout

After clearing the air on alliance in Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have reportedly changed gears to expedite their poll preparedness. 

The BJP is expected to announce the names of Lok Sabha candidates shortly, even as the meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee was being held in New Delhi on Saturday. Odisha BJP President, Manmohan Samal and organizational secretary, Manas Mohanty also left for Delhi to take part in discussions.

The BJP’s CEC is expected to give its stamp of approval to the names of candidates of some Lok Sabha seats in Odisha any time soon amid reports that a list of candidates for 100 Assembly seats and 16 LS seats has been prepared. 

The Odisha BJP chief has already asserted that party leaders and cadres have gone into overdrive for the upcoming polls.

BJP leader Manmohan Samal said, "The CEC meeting will be held. Party workers have started working.”

On the other hand, BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has been chairing meetings at his residence Naveen Niwas with senior leaders and party functionaries of various Parliamentary and Assembly segments almost every day.

Even during the days of alliance speculations, the BJD had set its exercise in motion. The party's high command has so far reviewed its organizational strengths, weaknesses and preparedness in 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly segments. On the basis of a survey report, the party has allocated tasks to leaders to ensure electoral success. 

Meanwhile, political observers have been reading between the lines, particularly the wording used in social media posts by Manmohan Samal and BJD’s organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das. 

Samal ‘thanked’ the BJD for supporting the BJP-led NDA government at the centre for the last 10 years while Das has pointedly stressed on ‘cooperative federalism’. 

Such calculated statements of the two parties created misgivings for Congress. 

The Odisha Congress suspect that both parties are going to play friendly matches. 

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Former Odisha Congress president, Prasad Harichandan came down heavily on the two parties saying, “Though they have not gone for an open understanding, they are working tacitly. This means they have agreed on the seats, where they will be fielding weak candidates to help each other out.”   

BJD MLA Prasanta Muduli said, “The statement made by our organisational secretary is based on the current situation. We had a clear victory in the last panchayat elections. People are with the BJD in Odisha.”  

BJP leader Dilip Malik said, "The fight will be more intense for the target of 400+ seats. The fight will be against the corruption and inefficiency of the 24-year-old government. The fight will be for public justice and public welfare.” 

BJD legislator Parsuram Dhada said, "The BJD was never in favour of an alliance. There is no such formula as A & B. The number one formula is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and BJD. The BJD had got a clear mandate in the past and will get the same in the upcoming polls.”

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