The BJP today accused the Congress of acting like a "B-team" of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha, claiming that its two rival parties have a "tacit understanding" to stop its growth in the state, a key region for its plans for the next Lok Sabha polls.
BJP general secretary Arun Singh, who is the eastern state's in-charge for the party, also dismissed suggestions that the Congress under its new Odisha president Niranjan Patnaik may post new challenges to the saffron party, which is seen to have emerged as a principal rival to the BJD.
"In its target to prevent us from making big gains in the next elections, it has become BJD's B-team. But it will not succeed," Singh told PTI.
Asked to elaborate, he cited the example of the recent assembly bypoll in Bijepur where the BJD quelled a spirited challenge from the BJP with its candidate bagging over 1.02 lakh votes against the latter's over 60,000 votes.
Singh pointed out that the Congress could get just around 10,274 votes even though it had won from the constituency for the last three consecutive terms.
Its candidate ended up losing deposit. The BJD's win was largely due to transfer of traditional Congress votes to it as both parties wanted to prevent a BJP win at all costs, he claimed.
Citing the results of last year's local body polls, the BJP leader said the Congress is no longer in reckoning in the state's politics and the next year's Lok Sabha and the assembly polls will see a direct contest between his party and the BJD.
In Odisha, both elections are held simultaneously and Patnaik has been its chief minister since 2000, leading his party to victory in four assembly polls on a trot.
The state, which sends 21 members to the Lok Sabha, has emerged key to the BJP's plans for the next parliamentary polls as its president Amit Shah has asserted that it is one of the states where his party can make big gains.
Despite fetching its maximum vote share of more than 21 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won only one seat, while the BJD swept the rest with over 44 per cent vote share. The Congress had won 26 per cent votes but no seat.
The BJP believes that the Congress has steadily lost its support since 2014 and has cited results of various by-elections and local polls afterwards to make its point.
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