Election on cards: Amit Shah's scheduled visit to strengthen BJP in Odisha

Home Minister Amit Shah
Home Minister Amit ShahTwitter@AmitShah

Bhubaneswar, Aug 4: With both Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly elections approaching, Union Home Minister Amit Shah's visit to Odisha will boost the party's prospects.

Shah's visit is significant as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has recently announced its full support for the Narendra Modi government in passing of the Delhi services bill.

The BJD has also announced to vote against the no-trust motion moved by the Opposition parties in the Parliament.

The BJD had earlier supported the Modi government on several issues and passing of crucial bills in the past. However, this time, the party has moved a step ahead and publicly announced its support to the Centre.

With this announcement of the ruling BJD, the political atmosphere in the state has intensified and it is being discussed across political circles and among intellectual class as what prompted the regional party to extend full support to the Centre when BJP is its principal opposition party in the state. This sudden proposed visit of Shah, who is treated as the second-most powerful leader in the BJP after Prime Minister Modi, to Odisha has added fuel to the speculations on the friendly relation between BJP and BJD at the Central level.

Earlier, the BJD had gifted a full term Rajya Sabha seat to the BJP, on which Ashwini Vaishnaw was elected and is now serving as a Cabinet Minister in the Modi government. All these activities add fuel to speculations raised on the close relation between the BJP and BJD.

Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha constituencies, of which BJP had won eight seats in 2019 while BJD secured 12 seats and a single seat went to the Congress.

For 2019 Assembly polls, Amit Shah himself had set a 120 seat-plus target for the Odisha BJP.

However, in the 147-seat Odisha Assembly, the BJD had won 113 seats, BJP secured 23, Congress nine, one CPI (M) and one Independent.

BJP's Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Odisha have increased in the 2019 polls which has encouraged the party to work in mission mode to further increase the number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the 2024 elections.

While Union Ministers are frequently visiting various parliamentary constituencies under the Lok Sabha Pravas Yojana, senior BJP leaders, including State party In-charge Sunil Bansal, are holding meetings to prepare a strategy to strengthen the party base in these constituencies.

Following the break-up of the BJD-BJP coalition government in 2009, Naveen Patnaik has been maintaining equal distance from both BJP and Congress. However, it has been supporting the Modi government in crucial times. There are speculations about conduct of early elections in the state as well. As per schedule, while attending government programmes, Shah will share the stage with Odisha Chief Minister.

Whether there will be any political discussion among the two senior leaders has not yet been clear. Now, all eyes are on the visit of Shah and his meeting with state BJP leaders.

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