Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will spearhead the high-voltage BJP campaign,which begins with a Vijay Sankalp (Victory Pledge) rally in Bhubaneswar on March 16.
Modi will not be present at the opening rally,but will thereafter concentrate his energies on Orissa in an extensive,statewide campaign that will also feature the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani,BJP chief Rajnath Singh and former Union minister Sushma Swaraj,Orissa BJP president Suresh Pujari said.
Nearly every senior BJP leader other than Modi will attend the March 16 show,Pujari said. “We will tell the people of Orissa how trusting Naveen Patnaik is a dangerous step.
Orissa goes to polls to elect 21 MPs and 147 MLAs on April 16 and April 23. The BJP will contest all seats for both parliament and the state assembly.
The BJD meanwhile,took the next logical step in its break with the BJP,announcing it had pulled out of the NDA.
“We are no longer a part of NDA. BJP betrayed us by withdrawing support,” BJD spokesman Damodar Rout said. On a possible alliance with the Left in a third front,Rout said all options were open,and Patnaik would make a decision after the March 11 trust vote.
“The political equations are changing every moment,” Rout said. “Any final decision on it can only be taken by Naveen Patnaik. But we are surely out of NDA.”
BJP MP Dharmendra Pradhan said his party will go to the people to explain how Patnaik had been a rank opportunist to be in power for the next two months.
“He was scared of President’s Rule and therefore allied with the same set of people he was opposed to ideologically. He wants to stay in power so that he can use the bureaucracy and police to his advantage,” Pradhan said. Patnaik,he alleged,is not as financially honest as he claims.
The young BJP leader said Patnaik had won in 2004 because of a strong Vajpayee wave. So he owes an answer to the people of Orissa on why he betrayed their mandate.
Pradhan said the BJP was reconciled to a possible setback in the coming elections,but was not looking for a rapprochement with Patnaik. “We know we will do badly in the 2009 election. But we are using the 2009 election only as rehearsal for the 2014 polls,” he said.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad breathed fire at Patnaik,announcing it would launch its campaign against him on March 15.
“Is Naveen a Hindu? I doubt it,” VHP leader Ashok Singhal said. He said the planned December 25 Orissa bandh had been postponed because the Chief Minister promised the arrest of the killers of Laxmanananda Saraswati within two months.
“The Orissa government knows who killed Swami Laxamananda Saraswati. But eight months have passed and the government is yet to arrest the culprits. They want to shield the killers,” Singhal said.