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Meet The Leader From UP's Mirzapur Who Helped BJP Increase its Vote Share in Odisha

A retired chartered accountant and longtime RSS member, Singh has played a crucial role in managing BJP’s campaigns during the four-phase simultaneous polls.

Anand ST Das | News18

Updated:May 25, 2019, 11:06 PM IST
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Meet The Leader From UP's Mirzapur Who Helped BJP Increase its Vote Share in Odisha
It was Arun Singh’s daring statements to the media and at rallies that often helped BJP workers coalesce and strive for better electoral gains.

Bhubaneswar: As BJP’s national general secretary and party in-charge for Odisha since 2014, it has been Arun Singh’s dream to increase the popularity and the electoral performance of the party and make it the eastern state’s ruling party in 2019.

That dream remained unfulfilled but, the outcomes of the 2019 polls clearly left the BJP with more confidence and stronger resolve.

The suave, articulate politician was BJP chief Amit Shah’s point man in the saffron party’s campaign blitzkrieg in Odisha. Like the state’s four-term Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the 54-year-old Singh, who hails from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, cannot speak Odia. But, he managed to ensure that his aides made him understand the nuances of the language used in the state’s political discourse well enough for him to be able to speak to the media at length. Among BJP leaders in Odisha, Singh is perhaps the most media-friendly and accessible.

Long before PM Minister Narendra Modi at a campaign rally ahead of the last phase, said that Naveen Patnaik’s government was on its way out, Singh had made it a habit to take potshots at the Biju Janata Dal government. BJP’s cadres were enthused by Singh’s statements like “Ab Naveen Patnaik ki Sarkar jaanewali hai (Now Naveen Patnaik’s government will go)” and “Odisha me Naveen Patnaik ki sarkaar haar chuki hai (The Naveen Patnaik-led government in Odisha has already lost)”.

Although those statements eventually proved futile, they had a lasting impact on the BJP workers who worked harder towards fulfilling the party’s dream of conquering the eastern state. The Lok Sabha polls saw BJP raising its 2014 tally of a measly one seat to eight. Odisha sends 21 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the simultaneously-held Assembly polls, BJP managed to win 23 seats as opposed to the 10 it had gotten in 2014. The party’s vote share this time also increased from 21.9 per cent to 38.37 per cent while the ruling BJD’s fell from 44.1 per cent to 42.76 per cent. BJP’s vote share in Odisha’s Assembly polls also rose significantly from 18.2 per cent to 32.5%.

A retired chartered accountant and longtime RSS member, Singh has played a crucial role in managing BJP’s campaigns during the four-phase simultaneous polls.

From finalising the party’s poll manifesto for the state to identifying sites for rallies that were attended by Modi and Shah, Singh decided on every important aspect of the campaign. He also played a major role in bringing Patnaik’s bitter critic and popular leader, Baijayant Panda, to the BJP two weeks before the polls. That gamble, however, failed as Panda lost to BJD’s Anubhav Mohanty, a popular Odia movie actor.

It was Singh’s daring statements to the media and at rallies that often helped BJP workers coalesce and strive for better electoral gains. “In his 19 years in power in Odisha, if Naveenbabu has done even 10 per cent of the work, Modi has done in just five years, then he must come for a 15-minute debate on this with any leader of BJP in the state,” Singh once said, a statement which left most BJD leaders speechless.

Arun Singh earlier helped BJP achieve electoral success in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. It was his meticulous strategy and deliberations with BJP’s central leaders that helped the saffron party grow stronger at the end of the polls in Odisha.

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