Amit Shah to visit Odisha in April to strengthen BJP ahead of 2019 polls

Bhubaneswar: BJP national president Amit Shah will visit Odisha in April this year, informed state BJP president Basant Panda on Sunday.

Although the date of Shah’s visit is yet to be finalised, Panda said Shah will visit the state in the first or second week of April.

Panda said Shah is likely to address a public meeting in the western Odisha and interact with party leaders during his visit.

The proposed visit of Shah assumes significance particularly after the party candidate Ashok Panigrahy was defeated in the Bijepur Assembly by a huge margin of around 41,000 votes from ruling BJD’s Rita Sahu.

Party sources said Shah’s visit to Odisha will galvanize the party workers, particularly in western Odisha, considered to be a stronghold of BJP.

Eyeing to break Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s winning spree in 2019, Shah will tour the state with a new strategy now. Though the saffron party witnessed a spectacular performance in the last year’s panchayat elections, it bit the dust in the recently held Bijepur Assembly by-elections.

On the other hand, after the BJP’s impressive show in the last year’s Panchayat polls, Naveen Patnaik brought several key changes in the party’s style of functioning by aggressively reaching out to people across the state. As a result, BJD succeeded in winning the Bijepur by-poll.

However, the BJP leadership are still reiterating their claim of coming to power in Odisha with a two-thirds majority in the next assembly elections scheduled in 2019.

Amit Shah has already made it clear that BJP’s golden period will come when it wins Odisha.

Earlier, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said that the party would change its strategy in Odisha to dethrone Naveen Patnaik government, which has been in power since last 18 years.

The party is eying to capture the Congress votes in order to strengthen its base at the grassroots level.