Panchayat Polls: BJP Pres, Amit Shah takes out rally today as election campaign in state capital

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Bhubaneswar, Nov 25: BJP President Amit Shah will today set the tone for the saffron party’s campaign for the ensuing panchayat elections slated in February. The BJP leaders here believe the demonetisation will fetch it enough votes in the rural polls. Though the BJP’s electoral fortune in the state has showed no significant progress ever since the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD broke its alliance with the former in the run up to the 2009 general elections, the saffron party hopes things would be different this time around. The BJP’s assessment is that people are very happy with Modi regime’s fight against black money. Moreover, the party insiders also feel the demonetisation will deprive the ruling BJD from using money power to buy votes in villages, which will make a huge difference in the February polls.

It will be Shah’s second public rally in Bhubaneswar as party president after he addressed one in the city in January last year. Much to the chagrin of the party workers, Shah had focused his entire speech on Congress bashing then. However, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a political rally at Agra recently said leaders behind multi-crore chit fund scams were attacking him on demonetisation, the BJP leaders here hope Shah won’t spare Naveen this time.

On the other hand, Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik, however, is far ahead of the BJP and the Congress in campaigning for the rural polls. In the past one month, Naveen has held public meetings in more than 25 of the 30 districts. These include multiple rounds of meetings in certain districts. The BJD feels the BJP can’t make a dent on its votes.

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Notably, despite a country-wide Modi wave in 2014, the BJP had then own only one Lok Sabha seat and just 10 assembly seats in the simultaneous elections then. The solace, however, was that its vote share went up by around 4.5 % in LS and 2.5 % in assembly polls. The BJP got 21.5% in LS (compared to 16.89 % in 2009) and 18 % in assembly (15.05 % in 2009) polls. The BJP’s show was very poor in the last panchayat elections in 2012.

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