Is BJP shifting electoral focus to Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: Strange as it may sound, but the fact remains is as many as six Union Ministers have visited Odisha in past one month for some reason or the other. Though purpose of their visit is quite relevant, it still leaves a question mark in the public whether the saffron party is focusing Odisha to strengthen its vote base, after it failed to achieve a remarkable victory in the State in 2014 general elections.

To add fuel to curiosity of general public, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are scheduled to visit this eastern State later this month. Again the PM’s second tour to Odisha this month (to address a farmers’ rally in Bargarh), has made the political equation of the party more complex.

While in January Union Steel and Mines minister Narendra Tomar, Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Agriculture Mohan Bhai Kundria and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy have finished their official tours, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati is on a three day State visit from Tuesday.

Political analysts however feel, though the saffron party bigwigs have strategically not targeted the ruling BJD during their earlier visits, the party may adopt a different ball game at the February 21 farmers’ rally where Modi will raise the farmer suicide issue in the State.

“Post Bihar debacle, the party is playing its cards very cautiously,” a political analyst said adding in Bargarh, Modi may target the BJD government of failing to tackle farmers’ problems leading to alleged suicides by many peasants, mostly in western region of the State.

On the PM’s tour, BJP general secretary and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh said, “The Prime Minister is concerned about farmers’ condition. He has special attachment with Odisha. Therefore, he is undertaking two visits to the state in a fortnight.”

PM Modi will address the Kisan Sammelan at Bargarh, Singh said adding he would also interact with farmers and listen to their problems. The rally at Bargarh is part of BJP’s plan to organise four mega Kisan Sammelans in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, he said.

A large number of farmers from across the state are expected to join the Bargarh rally where the party would highlight various schemes launched by the BJP government at the Centre for peasants’ benefit, he said.