After winning Assam, the BJP has set its eyes on Odisha, the coastal state under Biju Janata Dal (BJD) rule for the past 16 years.
The party shared power with the regional party for nine long years before they parted on the eve of the 2009 Lok Sabha election.
It is now readying to take on its former partner, whose support is important for the BJP to get its legislative agenda passed in the Upper House.
On Wednesday, BJP workers will stage demonstrations against the Naveen Patnaik administration in every block, followed by a show of strength in Bhubaneswar on July 4. Top BJP leaders will also participate in the Rath Yatra celebrations beginning July 6.
This comes after what the party termed a“murderous attack” by BJD workers on Union minister Santosh Gangwar when he was going to address a Vikas Parva rally at Badgad on June 24.
“Irrespective of their support (on legislative matters), the murderous attack on a Union minister is unacceptable. We are going to be aggressive in Odisha, trying to emerge as Naveen’s alternative,” BJP general secretary Arun Singh told HT. Singh is the party’s in charge for the coastal state.
The BJP has a reason for its optimism. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, it polled 22% votes and was closer to the Congress’ vote share of 26%. In the assembly election, which was held simultaneously, it polled 18% votes compared to 26% of the Congress. In both the elections, the BJD polled 43% plus votes.
“Among the states where the BJP is not in power, Odisha appears to be the most promising to us. We have a perfect base and we need to capitalise on this. The BJP has already started making the necessary changes,” Singh added.
The party has increased the number of its block units from 400 to over 1,000. Each of these units has been given a target to organise “anti-BJD protests” at least once a month. Every district unit has to hold demonstrations at least once in three months, while a rally of more than one lakh people will be held every six months.
“The idea is to occupy the anti-BJD space. Having shared power with them, people always felt that the BJP can ally with the BJD. We want to break this impression,” Singh said.