When senior leaders of the Left parties alleged in 2007 and 2008 that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates were making Odisha their next Hindutva laboratory after Gujarat, there were few takers. But the Bharatiya Janata Party believes the work done by the Parivar in the past two decades, coupled with the emergence of Narendra Modi, is likely to help it achieve substantial electoral gains in the State this time.
The Left parties had levelled the charge when tribal-dominated Kandhamal district witnessed anti-Christian riots in December 2007 prior to Christmas, and after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda in August 2008.
As the BJP is contesting all 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats, at least 30 front organisations of the Parivar, apart from BJP leaders and workers, are working overtime.
“All the organisations belonging to the nationalist school of thought are helping us and our party will do well in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State,” said BJP spokesperson in the State Sajjan Sharma.
In fact, the Parivar organisations had started working fulltime about six months ago primarily targeting the Congress, which was termed by them as the nation’s enemy. The work was strengthened after Mr. Modi was anointed chairman of the BJP national election campaign committee.
The Parivar also started training its guns at the firmly ensconced Biju Janata Dal after Mr. Modi addressed a rally in Bhubaneswar in February. The BJP leaders, who were angry with BJD president Naveen Patnaik for snapping ties with their party days before the 2009 election, felt elated.
Further, Mr. Modi’s subsequent rallies at Sambalpur, Nuapada, Balangir and Rourkela and his scathing attack on both the Congress at the Centre and BJD in the State have led the party to believe that it will put up a good show in western Odisha. .
. The Congress has been faction-ridden ever since its State leadership changed last year and the BJP is taking advantage of the situation.
“The party will win more Assembly seats because the Congress has failed to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor in the Naveen Patnaik Government,” said political analyst Rabi Das.
When the BJP fought both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2009 alone, it had won only six Assembly seats and no Lok Sabha constituency. However, it had secured 17 per cent of the votes polled in the Lok Sabha poll and 15 per cent votes in the Assembly election.