BJP hopes to do an Assam in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: After securing a thumping maiden victory in the eastern Indian State of Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has indicated that it would now focus on employing a similar strategy to come to power in Odisha.

Senior party leaders have indicated that the party would adopt the same formula that defeated the Congress in Assam to corner the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) here.

“We are strengthening our party in Assam style. They party organisation in Odisha is in a much better shape than in Assam. We had five seats in Assam, now we have reached 60. Odisha has 10 and we are expecting to cross 100 in the next election by applying same tactics,” senior BJP leader Manmohan Samal said.

Sources said luring Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was once termed as the Congress’ think-tank in Assam, to the party, fielding a strong, efficient and young union minister like Sarbananda Sonowal as CM candidate and the groundwork done by the RSS were the three key factors that brought BJP’s spectacular victory in the tea growing State.

The saffron party, which had to be satisfied with only five seats in the 2011 Assembly polls, has reached 60 – a 12-fold rise within a span of just five years.

BJP is hoping that Dharmendra Pradhan, the young Union minister of state for Oil and Natural Gas, can do a Sonowal in Odisha.

The repeated visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the state suggests that Odisha is high on the BJP’s agenda. The poster boy of the ruling central party, who is scheduled to address a public gathering in Balasore on June 2 on the second anniversary of his government, has already visited the last Odisha twice in six months.

State BJP chief Basant Panda, however, has stressed on hard work at grassroots level.
“The situation of Assam and Odisha might be different in many fields. But BJP would come to the poll battle after strengthening its base at the grassroots level in 36 organisational districts. The party is toiling hard for it,” Panda said.

The ruling BJD has pooh-poohed the BJP’s Assam formula.

“They (BJP) has failed in every strategy it has applied earlier. Since they have succeeded in Assam, they would use the same method here. But I do not think it would have any impact in Odisha,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said.