An upbeat BJP in Odisha is leaving no stone unturned in order to achieve party president Amit Shah’s target of ‘Mission 120 plus’ for the next Assembly election in the state.
After its “excellent” performance in the panchayat polls, the saffron poll managers are now preparing to give Naveen Patnaik led ruling BJD another “tough electoral fight” in Bijepur bypoll, which the saffron poll managers are seeing as an “agniparisha” ahead of the 2019 assembly polls. Not taking any chance, the chief minister, it was learnt, has deputed his ministers in the assembly seats and each minister has been given the charge to oversee party’s preparedness till the block level. Mr Patnaik, it was learnt, has been taking regular updates from BJD cadre in Bijepur.
Meanwhile, the BJP has strengthened its organisation in the state till the booth level with its ‘Mo booth sabuthu mazboot (my booth, the strongest)’ exercise and had done well in Bijepur during the local bodies elections earlier this year.
Though the election commission is yet to announce the date for the bypoll, which has been necessitated due to the demise of Congress MLA Subal Sahu, saffron poll managers are working hard to make sure that the ruling BJD treats the bypoll as an “agnipariksha (test by fire).”
Sources disclosed BJP joint general secretary, Saudan Singh had advised the state leadership to rope in former BJD leader Ashok Panigrahi, who had contested the last election as an independent and dented BJD’s vote bank.
Speculation is rife that the BJP could field Mr Panigrahi for the bypoll. On the other hand, late Congress leader’s wife Ritarani has joined the BJD and could be its candidate.
“At least the BJP has forced (chief minister) Naveen babu to reach out to his people, for whom he was inaccessible for all these years. Who would have thought that a CM would depute his ministers for a bypoll. No doubt the BJP’s growing popularity and acceptability in Odisha, which the BJD has been ruling for more than 15 years, has unnerved the BJD,” said a senior BJP leader. In the 147 member assembly, the BJP currently has just 10 members