- The BJP National Executive meet has begun in Bhubaneswar
- Top BJP leaders, including Narendra Modi, arrived in Odisha on Saturday to attend the meet
- The meet will focus on states crucial to the BJP’s fortunes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls
- Modi and Amit Shah are likely to give a call to push the BJP’s expansion in new territories, especially West Bengal
- BJP President Amit Shah arrived a day earlier, on Friday
Watch this space for all the live updates.
Talking at the national executive meet, BJP president Amit Shah asserted that the party has changed the meaning of victory after winning “Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand with a three-fourths majority.”
He also attacked political parties for questioning the reliability of EVMs and asked them to accept defeat gracefully. He further said that the BJP can beat regional parties.
“The BJP should have a chief minister in every state,” he further added.
Addressing the media on Saturday, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the BJP will now aim to unite against local parties and make the BJP a pan-India party.
“We will win Odisha, like we won Assam and Manipur,” Prasad further added.
Prime Minister Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and LK Advani have taken their place on stage and the party meet has begun.
After arriving at the airport, Modi paid floral tributes to Odisha's legendary personalities to strike an emotional chord with the Odias.
"Landed in Odisha to a memorable welcome. Gratitude to the people for the warmth and enthusiasm," tweeted Modi.
After his arrival at the Bhubaneswar airport, Prime Minister Narendra Modi partook in a road show – waving at the throngs of people gathered to welcome him.
Addressing the national party meet in Bhubaneswar, Shah said that while people think this is BJP’s “golden time,” he disagrees. “The golden times for BJP will come when it forms government in states like Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived for the BJP's national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar, Odisha a little later than 3:30 pm.
Watch The Quint’s Neeraj Gupta, live from Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar, where a crowd of BJP supporters is awaiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival.
The BJP National Executive Meet is now underway in Bhubaneswar. Amit Shah inaugurated the conclave with the lighting of the lamp.
Continuing with the BJP's Dalit outreach, the party has named the venue of its executive meet Janata Maidan, after noted Odia poet and reformer Bhima Bhoi. Blind since birth, Bhoi wrote a number of revolutionary poems and his ideology has been appreciated by several states and even the United Nations, said Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday.
Dalits constitute over 17 percent of the state’s electorate, and have never been traditional voters of the saffron party, which is now wooing them aggressively.
Internal squabbles in the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD and the continued decline of the Congress have presented the saffron party with an opportunity for growth in the state, and its top leadership is likely to to pull out all stops to woo the voters.
Coming on the heels of a massive saffron sweep in UP, besides a decent show in recent bypolls, the meeting of party leaders from across the country is set to fete Modi and Shah's leadership, and project the victories as a popular endorsement of the central government, sources said.
While Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already arrived in Odisha, Narendra Modi and other senior leaders and BJP chief ministers will arrive on Saturday. The BJP has planned a virtual road show for the Prime Minister. Modi is likely to be greeted at several places on his road travel from airport to Raj Bhawan, where he will stay.
Modi will also felicitate the members of 16 families associated with an 1817 rebellion in Odisha against the British rule.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is unlikely to attend the meeting on health grounds.
Having reclaimed power in Uttar Pradesh after 15 years, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will now turn its focus to the states where it has been traditionally weak but which are critical to determine its fortunes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as its national executive meet begins in Odisha this weekend.
Gaining strength in the eastern states, including West Bengal, is on the top of BJP President Amit Shah's to-do list now. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides Shah, is likely to give a call for pushing the party's expansion in the new territories.
BJP President Amit Shah arrived a day earlier, on Friday, for the BJP National Executive meet. He paid tributes to Dalit icon Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar on his birth anniversary – and later joined his state party colleagues in celebrating the Odia new year.
The BJP organised a motorcycle rally to welcome him. He was also presented with a garland of 74 "victory flowers", a reference to the majority mark in the 147-seat Odisha assembly.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan called Odisha a "laboratory" of the pro-poor policies of the Modi government, as he hit out at the state government a day before the executive is set to begin.
(With ANI, PTI and IANS inputs)