Eight Years after 'Betrayal', BJP Seeks to Turn Tables in Odisha
BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2009 general elections- L K Advani- was touring down south when one late evening he got an urgent message from Bhubaneswar. His close aide and point person for Odisha, Chandan Mitra, wanted to apprise Advani on the latest seat-sharing talks with Odisha CM and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik (R)
New Delhi: BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2009 general elections- LK Advani- was touring down south when one late evening he got an urgent message from Bhubaneswar.
His close aide and point person for Odisha, Chandan Mitra, wanted to apprise Advani on the latest seat-sharing talks with Odisha CM and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.
The last offer from the long-standing NDA ally was humiliatingly low- Advani was told- five out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Patnaik it seemed had made up his mind to abandon BJP after the Kandhamal violence.
When states in the north and west reeled under the Modi wave, Patnaik romped home to a comfortable majority in Odisha. The only real challenge he's faced has been from his one-time aide and RS MP, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. The midnight rebellion, however, was crushed in a few hours with Patnaik dashing back to Bhubaneswar from his annual sojourn to London.
That remarkable opportunity for the BJP has, however, presented itself now, almost a decade later. In the panchayat polls this year, for the first time in nearly two decades, electorate has shown signs of ennui and fatigue. BJP's performance in the local body polls has surprised one and all. Precisely the reason why the executive, which was earlier planned for Lucknow to mark the emphatic victory in UP, was shifted to Bhubaneswar in the last hour.
Under Amit Shah, the BJP is in a perpetual election mode. Odisha along with neighbouring West Bengal are two provinces party would focus on in the next general elections to bridge any deficit arising out a near saturation limits achieved in other states. Preparations for that are on a full swing.
But then politics requires idols, both present and past. Especially if one were to challenge the legacy of a stalwart like Biju Patnaik.
So seeking to fill that void and borrow from the past, BJP is going back centuries in time to invoke Bakshi Jagbandhu and Bhima Bhoi. Jagbandhu led the first armed rebellion against the British in 1817. Bhoi was the Dalit philosopher, saint and idol in the latter part of the same century. The main venue for the two-day meet has been named after Bhoi, who is known for commitment to social justice and equality.
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