The BJP is confident of making inroads in coastal parts of Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal's stronghold, where the party has been strengthening its base and received a further boost with several grassroots leaders joining it recently, a senior BJP leader said Monday.
The BJP, which has traditionally drawn votes from the tribal parts of western Odisha, had won one Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 general elections and was at the second position in nine other constituencies out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The BJD had won the remaining 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Two years later, in 2016, the BJP put up a strong show in Odisha's local body polls, winning 297 of the state's 849 zilla parishad seats, and was at the second position behind the ruling BJD in the overall tally.
A senior BJP leader who is looking after the party's affairs in Odisha, said post-2014, the BJP replaced the Congress as the party that could challenge the ruling BJD in the state.
He claimed that the saffron party got more than 45 per cent of the vote share in the local body elections in more than 300 seats. And in the BJD's bastion of coastal Odisha, it got nearly 20 per cent of the vote share.
"Our organisation work has expanded by leaps and bounds in the last two years, many credible and honest grass leaders have left the BJD and the Congress to join the BJP. We are now confident of getting more than 40 per cent votes in coastal parts of Odisha as well," the BJP leader said.
He said more than a dozen leaders, mainly from the BJD, have joined the BJP and many others have shown interest in coming into the fold.
The BJP is on a hunt for new seats in the eastern states so that it can offset the expected losses it may sustain in northern and western parts of the country. It is aiming for sizeable seats from both Odisha and West Bengal.
The BJD was once a BJP ally but it broke the alliance in 2009 and, since then, has maintained its distance from both national parties, the BJP and the Congress.
The Naveen Patnaik-led party has refused to participate in any coalition headed by either the Congress or the BJP.
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