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NaMo drops Odisha plan

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 22: The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is believed to have postponed his visit to the state following reports that his trip will not make any difference to the party’s electoral prospects in the urban polls in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

A poor showing by the party would rather affect his image considerably, sources in the BJP said.

These sources said that Modi, instead of January, would visit the state in February.

BJP sources said that senior leaders would not like Modi to visit the twin cities during the polls.

The party, which received drubbings in the recently held urban polls elsewhere in the state, is unlikely to improve its position in the twin cities.

This is notwithstanding the fact that the party had used Modi’s photographs in most of its campaign materials during the municipal polls.

The party had formed councils in 20 urban local bodies in 2008, but its strength reduced to three this time.

The ruling BJD, which is on a winning spree, would spare no efforts to further consolidate its grip over the two civic bodies.

In the 60-member Bhubaneswar Muncipal Corporation, the BJP had won eight seats and in 54-member Cuttack Municipal Corporation, the party has two corporators.

“As Naveen’s popularity continues to be at peak, any wrong move at this juncture will cost us dearly in the forthcoming Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha elections. Considering all these factors, it was decided that Modi’s visit will be postponed till the urban elections are over,” said a BJP leader.

Source said that Modi had planned a visit to Sambalpur in west Odisha in the first week of January.

However, powerful leaders from the coastal belt had argued in favour of Modi visiting Bhubaneswar or Cuttack. Subsequently, these leaders are said to have prevailed upon the central leadership to postpone his visit to Sambalpur. Now, these sources said, Modi would visit Bhubaneswar in February.

BJP state unit president K.V. Singh Deo said: “Modi is likely to visit the state in the first week of February.”

Senior BJP leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan said, “Modi is our prime ministerial candidate. It is beyond the decorum that a leader of his stature should come and campaign for party candidates in urban polls.”

BJP sources said the party would organise nearly 30 meetings of Modi before the general polls across Odisha.