In Odisha and Kerala, the BJP is being accused of engineering splits in the BJD and the Congress, Archis Mohan reports.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has set its eyes on winning seats in states on the Coromandel coast of India in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, particularly in states like Kerala and Odisha.
To compensate for the lack of influential leaders in these regions, the BJP says its doors were open for leaders from rival parties.
In Odisha and Kerala, the BJP is being accused of engineering splits in such parties as the Biju Janata Dal and the Congress.
Recently, Odisha’s ruling party BJD Lok Sabha member Tathagata Satpathy alleged that the BJP was trying to drive a wedge in his party.
Later, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik blamed the BJP for fuelling such ‘false’ reports.
There have been reports in Kerala media about the possibility of some of the Congress leaders joining the BJP in the state.
On Thursday, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is fast emerging as the BJP’s face in Odisha, said his party would welcome ‘clean and strong’ leaders from other parties.
"We want to strengthen our party. Whoever is committed to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah are welcome to join us," Pradhan said.
The BJP has identified 120-seats in the northeastern Coromandel coast states for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, to compensate for any losses it might suffer in its strongholds in northern and western India.
Pradhan said the BJP’s electoral victories in Assam and Manipur, and recent success in Odisha panchayat polls, were evidence of the party’s increasing popularity in its non-traditional areas.
The BJP held its national executive meeting in Kozhikode, in Kerala, in September, while Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, will host the next national executive later this week.
This was with the objective of expanding the party’s base in these states, Pradhan, the minister for oil and natural gas in the Modi government, said.
The Bhubaneswar national executive would set the contours of the Modi government’s programmes and policies, as well as that of the BJP’s for the next two years. The focus would be to celebrate the success of three years of the Modi government’s ‘garib kalyan’, or welfare of the poor, agenda.
In Bhubaneswar, the BJP chief has asked party cadre to reach out to each of the 36,000 polling booths of the state.
The PM will also meet family members of those who had participated in the Paik rebellion against the British East India Company in Odisha in 1817. The Centre will mark the bicentenary of the rebellion this year, considered the first armed revolt against the British.
Pradhan said the recent panchayat elections have proven that the BJP has emerged as the main opposition to the ruling BJD in Odisha, with Congress pushed to the third place.
If extrapolated to assembly seats, the panchayat poll data indicates that the BJP won 44 seats, while the Congress was reduced to below 10 seats in the 147-member assembly.
The BJD still won panchayat polls in 92 assembly seats. The halfway mark is 74 seats in the assembly.
The BJP bagged 33 per cent votes. The next assembly polls in Odisha will coincide with the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Odisha sends 21 members to the Lok Sabha. In 2014, BJP won one seat while the rest were won by BJD.