Conversation with Arun Singh, BJP’s in charge (prabhari) of Odisha
Ajay Singh | April 3, 2014
Arun Singh, BJP’s in charge (prabhari) of Odisha, is an unassuming strategist. A professional chartered accountant from Delhi, Singh has seen and strategised the recent elections of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh from close quarters. In this election, he is assigned the task of revitalising the BJP campaign in a state which is virtually written off by the party. In a conversation, Singh shows his optimism and outlines his priorities:
Q: The BJP does not seem to have any influence in Odisha. How will you make impact?
A: It is a wrong impression. The RSS has done a lot of work in tribal areas and built a good cadre base. We lost that clout during our alliance with the BJD. But now with Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh taking on the BJD and Naveen Patnaik squarely, our cadre is enthused. We have recovered substantial ground.
Q: How will you convince people of your party's relevance?
A: Frankly we don't need to. It is self-evident because the Congress is fast withering away. As of now, we come across as natural opposition to Naveen Patnaik. You will see a major shift of anti-incumbency votes in favour of the BJP.
Q: But Patnaik is extremely popular and you don't have a leader of matching stature in the state.
A: Leaders are not created in vacuum. They will emerge as per the necessity of the time. Agreed that Patnaik is popular, but Odisha does not have a track record of development and poverty alleviation to show. They will be beaten hollow by the performance of neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
Q: People here seemed satisfied. Why do you say there is no development?
A: In the past five years, 996 farmers have committed suicide while there has been none in Chhattisgarh. In rural areas, Odisha does not provide for more than seven hours of power supply while Chhattisgarh ensures round-the-clock power supply. Health and nutrition are other parameters on which Odisha has performed miserably.
Q: Is it not late to convey these messages to voters?
A: As the campaign picks up, we intend to emphasise on Naveen's vulnerabilities and seek people's mandate for the state as well. Our attack on Naveen will get intensified to fill in the space vacated by the Congress. I hope Odisha results would surprise you all.
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