Bhubaneswar, Sept. 13: The anointment of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has galvanised the state party unit with leaders exuding confidence about lotus blooming in Odisha after 2014 Assembly elections.
“He is a dynamic leader with a great appeal among the youth. His energy is infectious. He can impart a major fillip to our campaign for reviving the party’s fortunes in the state. We may not have done all that well in the last elections, but we are confident of winning the next one under his leadership both at the Centre and in the state,” said a senior BJP leader.
The news of BJP parliamentary board’s decision to project the Gujarat strongman as the party’s choice for the post of the Prime Minister was greeted with joy by the state unit leaders, who hugged each other and celebrated by distributing sweets and bursting crackers.
State BJP president K.V. Singhdeo said: “There is a growing public opinion that Modi should be the next Prime Minister of the country. It would have been foolish to ignore the sentiments of the people. There might be some difference of opinion over the issue, but ultimately we all have to accept the party’s decision.”
Senior party spokesperson Suresh Pujari went a step ahead. “The atmosphere today is reminiscent of 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was projected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. The only difference is that the man in focus now is Narendra Modi. We are sure history is going to be repeated and the party is going to make a resounding comeback to power,” said Pujari.
Sources said the state BJP, which fared badly in the 2009 Assembly polls managing six of 147 seats at stake, desperately needed the support of a charismatic personality like Modi to revive its sagging fortunes. Apart from the fact that Modi is an excellent orator and a clever strategist, the state leaders are also pinning hopes on what they call the NaMo wave. “There is a perceptible wave in favour of the man. We in Odisha will also reap its benefits,” said another leader.
“You should organise at least 1,000 public meetings in the 147 Assembly constituencies of the state by the end of September. The party should also make the best possible use of social media to reach out to the people,” Modi had told the state BJP leaders in Puri during his visit to the state in July.
Most BJP leaders here were, however, reluctant to talk about the division within the party over Modi’s anointment, especially the objections raised by Advani. “The country needs Modi more than the BJP. It is unfortunate that Advani has failed to read the pulse of the nation,” said senior leader Ashok Sahu.
The BJD, on the other hand, sought to play down the development. “We have no reason to be scared of Modi. We know the talk of his popularity is so much of hot air,” said BJD vice-president and finance minister Prasanna Acharya.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena said BJP’s projection of Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate would not cut any ice with the voters.