Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 2:

Stung by the unprecedented success of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recently-concluded Panchayat polls in Odisha and rumblings within the party, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today embarked on week-long brainstorming programme with newly-elected panchayat samiti members of the party which comes barely two weeks ahead of national executive meeting here.

On the opening day of the programme, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today met the elected members of the party from Jajpur district in the presence of MLAs and MPs of the district at the party headquarters here.

“Chief Minister asked them to reach-out to people and educate them on the government schemes. Such meeting will again be conducted after six months,” BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy said.

This comes days after party’s Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda wrote an op-ed piece in an Odia daily for an immediate need to introspect and take corrective measures in the backdrop of BJP’s ever-increasing mandate in the recently concluded polls.

“The elected representatives who ought to propagate government’s pro-people programmes have come to attend the programme. Among other things, effective implementation of programmes and strengthening party at the grassroots level was discussed,” Dharmasala MLA Pranab Kumar Balabantaray said.

In the later part of the session, local body representatives from Koraput district also had an interaction with party chief.

The brainstorming event is slated to culminate on April 8 where representatives from various district will have interactions with the party president.

The meeting assumes significance in view of the twin elections due in 2019. While the BJP has shifted its focus to Odisha and several Union ministers have been frequenting the state on various occasions, the regional party has fastened its belt to consolidate its lost ground. In a visibly tactical move, the saffron party has picked up the city of temple as its next destination for the two-day national executive meet set to begin from April 15 where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national president Amit Shah, Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states and other senior leaders will participate.

Notably, BJP has amassed significant seats in the Panchayat polls renewing aspirations of unseating Naveen Patnaik-led government in the forthcoming elections.

On the other hand, the BJD supremo considered hitherto ‘inaccessible’ has made unusual public appearance – seen at a city mall with sister Geeta Mehta at a book store. Patnaik also handed out a photo-op to the people around, seen as a deliberate move to dispel the popular perception.