Bhubaneswar: With Odisha’s fourth and final phase of elections, both Assembly and Lok Sabha, set for coming Monday, BJP stalwarts are making the last-minute dash there. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah will be visiting the state today for poll campaigning.
The PM would also be campaigning in Uttar Pradesh for its fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections. This state goes to polls in each of the seven phases and sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha so is an important one for BJP.
While Odisha is where BJP hopes to unseat BJD’s Navin Patnaik who has ruled there since 2000, UP is more of a prestige issue for the saffron party as it is running the state and in 2014, had won 73 of the 80 seats. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, of the 21 seats in Odisha, BJD secured ten with the BJP coming a close second at nine. So it hopes to better its performance this time.
Today in Odisha, Shah is scheduled to visit Morada in Mayurbhanj district and Sukinda in Jajpur district to address election rallies, PM Modi will hold a public meeting at Barua in Kendrapara district of Odisha.
BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Roopa Ganguly have anyway visited Odisha for election campaigning on in the past three days, said BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra.
In 2014, BJD had won 117 of 147 seats while BJP got 10 and Congress 16. During his recent visits to Odisha, PM Modi had been attacking the BJD-led Odisha government for allegedly failing to bring development in the state.
This time, the BJP has the mammoth task of registering a victory in more than 120 of the 147 Assembly constituencies of the state. Naveen Patnaik of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been running the state since March 2000.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Patnaik has severely criticised political leaders who did not visit Odisha during natural calamities but turn up around election time.
Flagging off his own campaign earlier this month, Patnaik was reacting to the attack by PM Modi and Shah without taking their names in his speech. He alleged that they did not come to Odisha during the Phailin, Hudhud, and Titli cyclones as well as severe drought situations.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also made a similar allegation on Friday when she said that PM Modi did not visit her state except when it was election time. She said, “He didn’t come earlier and in elections, he needs votes from Bengal.”
And what, she said, would he get instead? “We will give him rasgulla from Bengal.” Probably referring to PM Modi’s revelation in his non-political interview to actor Akshay Kumar that the Bengal CM sent him sweets, Banerjee went on to add, “We will make sweets from the soil and put pebbles in it, like cashew nuts and raisins are used in laddu. That will break (his) teeth.”
Meanwhile, the PM filed his nomination papers in Varanasi on Friday as he seeks to defend his Lok Sabha seat. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has alleged that the PM has time for interviews with actors but he doesn’t have time for farmers.
PM Modi is scheduled to be back for ‘vishal jansabha’ in Kannauj, Hardoi and Sitapur during the day. Kannauj will see BJP candidate Subrat Pathak pitted against sitting MP and alliance candidate Dimple Yadav.