Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reportedly working on its mission to make inroads into south Odisha where four Lok Sabha seats like Berhampur, Aska, Nabarangpur and Koraput are on its target. 

In fact, what motivated the saffron party to turn its focus on the southern Lok Sabha seats is its increasing vote share. 

In two of the segments, party candidates were in second position. In Berhampur, the BJP’s vote share increased to 35.26 per cent in 2019 from 17.54 per cent in 2014. In 2014, the BJP’s vote share was 7.72 per cent in Aska, but it increased by 26.81 per cent to 34.33 per cent in 2019.  

In Koraput, the saffron party got only 9 per cent of votes in 2014 and the vote share rose to 19.29 in 2019. In Nabarangpur, the BJP increased its vote share from 13 per cent (2014) to 29.50 in 2019. 

In the 2019 election, the BJP was in second position in Berhampur and Aska LS seats.

Keeping the increasing vote share in mind, the BJP has fielded strong candidates in these four seats. Pradeep Panigrahi has been fielded in the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat against BJD candidate Bhrugu Buxipatra. 

BJP’s Digapahandi candidate Siddhant Mohapatra said, "The BJP will raise its voice when it comes to Odisha's swabhiman and the issues related to Maa (mother), Mati (motherland) and Bhasa (mother tongue). Democracy will be established in south Odisha.”  

Significantly, the BJP has drawn up a strategy to win four Lok Sabha seats and 28 Assembly seats. 

As part of the strategy, the BJP organised the Vijay Sankalp Samavesh at Ambapua ground in Berhampur, where party president JP Nadda addressed the rally and targeted the Odisha government over several issues on Sunday.

In Koraput, BJP nominee Jayram Pangi was in third position in 2019, but the party had got over 2 lakh votes and wrested Umerkote and Malkangiri Assembly seats. 

In Nabarangpur, BJP’s Balabhadra Majhi is now contesting against BJD’s Pradip Majhi. In Koraput, BJP has fielded Kaliram Majhi against Congress stalwart Saptagiri Ulaka and BJD’s Kaushalya Hikaka.
Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, "That time, Modi wave was prevailing. Later, people were cheated with the claims of ‘achhe din’. No matter how many star campaigners come here; it will have no impact on Congress.” 

Political observer Rajendra Gouda said, "The Paralakhemundi Assembly seat under the Berhampur Parliamentary segment was won by the BJP in 2019. If the BJP works out its strategy, it can get electoral success. The party has been carrying out its plan and JP Nadda’s visit to Berhampur is a part of their plan.”

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