POLITICS

In Bhubaneswar, BJP Warns Against Complacency, Begins Mission 2019

Narendra Modi is the most popular leader in India since independence, Amit Shah tells national executive.

15/04/2017 10:11 PM IST | Updated 15/04/2017 10:32 PM IST
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The best for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to come, its president Amit Shah said today, while addressing its national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar, the Capital of Odisha, today.

Shah's remark was directed at nearly 200-odd senior party members and comes after a spectacular performance in recently concluded assembly elections. The BJP formed governments in four states—Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Goa—out of the five that went to polls. Amit Shah doesn't want the "party to be complacent," union law and information minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later told reporters.

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Leaving nothing to chance, Shah told the national executive: "the BJPs golden age" will come only after it forms governments in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and some of the North-eastern states. "Prime Minister Modi is the most popular leader of the country since independence," Shah told the national executive.

The remark underlines that the BJP under Modi-Shah combine, unlike its primary opposition party Congress, works like a well-oiled machine, always ready for the next elections.

In contrast, the Congress, which emerged as the single-largest party in Goa, failed to form the government despite support from allies because its top leadership wasn't available, insiders say.

The BJP is now eyeing Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. It doesn't have a strong base in any of these states. "The myth that the BJP doesn't fare well against regional powers has been dispelled in Uttar Pradesh," Shah told the national executive asking leaders to motivate workers.

Odisha goes to polls in 2019 along with the Lok Sabha elections, but the planning for that has already started.

Prime Minister Narender Modi's roadshow in Bhubaneswar was attended by thousands. It was impressive and well managed. The Prime Minister specially took time to meet the adhivasi (tribal) community that forms about 22% of the state's population. That the BJP has its eyes set on the elections was clear.

Top BJP sources told HuffPost India that countering Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the son of freedom fighter and legendary Odiya politician Biju Patnaik, was one of the key issues discussed at the meeting. Keeping in mind the popularity of Biju Patnaik and Naveen's clean image, it has been decided that the party will refrain from making personal attacks on Naveen Patnaik, but will question his policies.

For 2019 Lok Sabha elections too, planning has begun. BJP president Amit Shah will spend the next three months—until September—touring the country with a special focus on booth-level workers.

All members of the national executive, which include Union Ministers, will tour the country for 15 days. They will focus on BJP workers and get to know the areas that need more focus.

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