Erstwhile Janata Dal leader Biju Patnaik once called the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a “sign board party”. Almost three decades after Patnaik made this statement, the BJP is signing pan-India. Apart from ruling the centre, the party controls 14 of the 30 states, covering 70 per cent of India’s geographical area and 60 per cent of the population.
“But the BJP’s golden period is yet to arrive. It is time the party needs to rule at every level of legislature – from panchayat to Parliament.” This is what the BJP president Amit Shah said at the party’s two-day national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar that concluded on 16 April where the BJP discussed how to carry forward its Sangathan (organisation), Sangharsh (fight for the cause) and Samrachana (cohesiveness).
At the mega conclave – attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cabinet ministers, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and top party functionaries – a buoyant BJP attributed its decisive victory in the recent assembly elections to the “politics of performance”. The next priority of the saffron party is winning Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.
Shah has asked party workers to “go the extra mile” to strengthen the party in 120 Lok Sabha constituencies where it is weak. Shah will embark on a 95-day whirlwind tour to connect with the party cadre.
At the conclave, the BJP kick-started its mission 2019. “The BJP calls upon the people of the country to take a pledge to form a government under the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2019 in order to have the continuity of development and welfare policies for all in the country,” reads the political resolution of the party.
At a time when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is completing three years in office in May, Prime Minister Modi asked his ministers and party leaders to take a big leap forward in delivering on the promises it made to the people.
“A work on a mission mode is required to meet the 2022 target of socio-economic change when India marks its 75 years of Independence,” the PM said delivering his concluding address at the conclave.
Odisha In BJP’s Focus
Assembly elections in Odisha are two years away which would be held along with the Lok Sabha election in 2019. By holding the national executive meeting in Biju Janata Dal stronghold, the BJP has sent a strong political signal. The party is now eyeing unconquered territories from south to east to north east, and this is where Odisha fits into BJP’s scheme of things.
The BJP wants to repeat a UP in Odisha. At the national executive meeting, Shah has lashed out at the misgovernance under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's rule.
“Naveen Patnaik has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Odisha. Misgovernance under his rule has added to the miseries of the people. Even a sizable population of the state is deprived of the basic amenities. BJP will go to the people of Odisha with these issues and form the government in 2019,” the BJP president said.
In the last Pachayat elections, the BJP succeeded in making a giant stride in Odisha politics, leaving Naveen Patnaik’s BJD in a tailspin. He is now staring at a strong anti-incumbency. With renewed hope and new vigour, the BJP is sanguine about riding a saffron surge in Odisha.
The writer is a senior journalist based out of Delhi. He writes on politics, policy, national interest and cultural nationalism. He tweets at @SaswatPanigrahi.
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