The BJP, however, is trying hard to rebuild itself in the state where it is showing signs of recovery after being down in the dumps for the past five years.
Down to just six seats in the Assembly in 2009, when its alliance with the ruling BJD broke, the BJP now has 10 MLAs in the 147-member House. The signs of revival were also visible in the recent Kandhamal Lok Sabha bypoll when its candidate came second, pushing the Congress to the third place.
The party has been quick to latch on to sensitive issues and build up public movements. It was the first in the state to organise a demonstration against the government on money deposit collection scam in Balasore on December 8, days after it had held a rally in Sambalpur on December 5 on the issue of distress sale of paddy.
"We have stepped up our activities to ensure that there is no let up in the pressure on the government," said senior BJP leader Jaynarayan Mishra.
Sources said the BJP leadership was working to a plan with clear-cut long and short-term goals.
While the party's immediate objective was to supplant the Congress as the main Opposition party in the state, the long-term objective was to emerge as the biggest party in the 2019 elections.
While the party appears to be slowly but certainly moving towards the objective of upstaging the Congress, senior leaders are busy drawing up the strategy to achieve the bigger goal. The upcoming Bhubaneswar visit of Shah is part of the party's strategy to galvanise cadres. In this context, the proposed rally of Shah here on January 6 has become a prestige issue for the party.
"We will present our future plans before him. This includes organisation of four big rallies in different parts of the state till the end of 2015," said state BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari.
Significantly, the RSS has been lending support to the BJP in its bid to revive its fortunes in the state. The five-day Odisha visit of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that concluded, is being seen in this context.
During his stay, Bhagwat met leaders and cadres belonging to 47 different organisations sympathetic to the RSS and the BJP discussing behind closed doors the strategy to capture the state in the 2019 elections.
Senior BJP leaders, including state party chief K.V. Singh Deo and Union minister Jual Oram, also met Bhagwat.
Sources said that the BJP had been riding the RSS piggyback in the state ever since the sensational killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines in 1999, an incident that aggravated the turf war between Christian and Hindu missionaries. The role of the RSS was again under scrutiny in the wake of the communal riots in Kandhmal in 2008 triggered by the murder of VHP leader, Laxamananda Saraswati.
State BJP leaders admitted that the party was in a good position to replace the Congress as the main Opposition party in the state.
"While the Congress remains divided making things easy for us, our central leaders, too, have been lending us good support," said Pujari.
The faction-ridden Congress, on the other hand, seems to be making a last ditch attempt at retrieving its lost base in the state by putting the youth in focus.
The appointment of former MLA Prasad Harichandan, as the state party chief, is as an indication that the party's future lies in the hands of the youth. But the success of the strategy, which is aimed as much at keeping the rampant BJP at bay, would depend on Harichandan's ability to carry the party with him.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta
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