Bhubaneswar, Feb 10 (PTI) With the Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls drawing closer, heavyweights of both BJP and Congress are all set to increase the frequency of their visits to Odisha.

Both the parties are focussing on Odisha where Assembly election is likely to be held along with Lok Sabha polls in April-May this year.

After his back-to-back Odisha visits, BJP president Amit Shah is scheduled to address a rally at Sambalpur on February 15, a party leader said.

Shah will have a meeting with the booth level organisers of four Lok Sabha constituencies of Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Sundargarh. About 60,000 booth level organisers will attend the meeting, according to state BJP chief Basant Panda.

This will be Shahs third visit to Odisha this year and the second in 12 days.

His last visit to Odisha was on February 3 when he addressed a meeting of BJP’s ST Morcha at Puri. Earlier, he had visited Cuttack district and addressed a public meeting at Kulia in Salipur block on January 29.

On both the occasions, Shah had slammed the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha dubbing it as a “fused transformer” which needs to be replaced.

Shahs back-to-back visits were followed by a tour of BJP stalwart and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to Dhenkanal and Paradip on February 6 when he launched a slew of projects.

The BJP, which seems to be leaving no stone unturned to brighten its poll prospects, is also organising “Parivartan Samabesh” in all the 147 Assembly segments in the state. The saffron party has set a target of winning more than 120 of the 147 Assembly seats in the state.

As part of its strategy, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Giriraj Singh, Ram Kripal Yadav and Manoj Sinha are scheduled to lead the partys campaign in Odisha in days ahead.

Rajnath Singh is slated to visit Odisha on February 17, while Giriraj Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav are also scheduled to tour the state. Adityanath’s programmes are being given final shape, a senior BJP leader said.

The visits are coming after three back-to-back visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the state on December 24, January 5 and January 15.

The saffron party is keen to corner a large number of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha and also overthrow the Naveen Patnaik government. The BJD is in power in Odisha since 2000.

Congres president Rahul Gandhi, who has already visited Odisha twice in a fortnight, is slated to undertake another visit this month.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) has also urged the AICC to bring Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a star campaigner during Rahul Gandhi’s visit.

Stating that the exact date and place of the proposed visit is being finalised, OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik said “We have requested the AICC for Priyanka Gandhis visit to Odisha.”

The Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 2000, is making a desperate bid to keep its cadre united and stage a comeback.

During his recent visits, Rahul Gandhi mounted a scathing attack on both BJP and BJD, dubbing them as two sides of the same coin.

The Congress chief had also accused Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of being “remote controlled” by Narendra Modi from Delhi.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.