BHAWANIPATNA/BALANGIR: The visit of National BJP president Amit Shah to the backward districts of Kalahandi and Balangir on Wednesday seems to be a part of the saffron party’s strategic plan to regain control of the parliamentary seats in 2019.
Aware of the dwindling popularity and support base of the Congress, political observers feel that Shah may try to divert the grand old party’s votes to BJP and flag off campaign ahead of the general elections in 2019.
The BJP won from Kalahandi in 1998, 1999 and 2004 before party nominee late Bikram Keshari Deo lost to Bhakta Charan Das of Congress. The seat is currently being held by Bikram’s son Arka Keshari Deo who joined BJD after the demise of his father.
Buoyed by the party’s success in the last Zilla Parishad elections when it emerged victorious in 33 of the 36 zones, the BJP is eyeing to regain its lost ground. Moreover, in the last 16 Lok Sabha polls held here since 1952, Congress has won only on four occasions in 1980, 1984, 1991 and 2009, making it clear that it is an anti-Congress bastion.
Similarly, in Balangir Lok Sabha constituency, Sangita Singhdeo of BJP had won the 1998, 1999 and 2004 elections before she was defeated by brother-in-law Kalikesh Singhdeo who emerged victorious in both 2009 and 2014 polls. Like Kalahandi, the Congress has also won from the seat on four occasions in 1980, 1984, 1991 and 1996 since polls were first held in 1962. During the rest of the period, candidates from other political parties emerged victorious from the seat.
Under such circumstances, kicking off the campaign in a well-orchestrated manner in the two districts will be at the back of the mind of Shah, who is considered to be the master strategist of BJP. Moreover, Shah’s visit is believed to have a bearing on the fate of BJD which has 20 out of 21 MPs from the State.
Hordes of leaders and organisers from Chhattisgarh are camping in Bhawanipatna and working overtime to ensure that the BJP programme is a huge success. Even logistics have been arranged from across the border, a fact which has irked local workers who feel they are being undermined despite sweating it out for the party.
During his two-day tour beginning from Wednesday, Shah will address a public meeting at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium at Bhawanipatna, which will be attended by BJP supporters from Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts. The BJP chief is slated to stay overnight at Bhawanipatna.
On Thursday, the BJP president will address a ‘Yuva Samabesh’ at Kosal Kala Mandap Ground in Balangir. Youths from parliamentary constituencies of Sambalpur, Balangir, Sundargarh, Bargarh, Kalahandi and Kandhamal will join the Samabesh.