JEYPORE: As he towers over all his political rivals across the country, tribal pockets of Koraput seem to be falling for the Narendra Modi magic too. Clearly, the ruling BJD and Congress have their task cut out in the constituency with only six days remaining for the polls.
In the last elections, the Modi factor did not cut much ice in the face of Chief Minister Minister Naveen Patnaik’s charisma who enjoyed a strong pull among the tribal voters. BJP had ended up putting up a dismal show by polling the lowest votes in Koraput Lok Sabha seat as well as the Assembly segments of Jeypore, Koraput , Laxmipur, Pottangi, Rayagada, Bissam Cuttack and Gunupur. In the 2017 panchayat polls too, the saffron party took a beating in tribal areas with both BJD and Congress performing better.
However, the fortunes of BJP seems to have reversed after the rally of Prime Minister Modi at Jeypore last month. The PM’s event seems to have shifted the political winds in favour of BJP giving Congress and BJD leaders sleepless nights. Poll pundits said with BJP making inroads into the tribal vote base, political equation of the two rival parties have totally changed.
Sources said innocent tribal voters, who had little knowledge about BJP or Modi till recently, have now started querying about the saffron party candidates. This has rejuvenated the BJP workers who are now making a beeline for the tribal pockets to capitalise on the changing mood of voters. Adding fuel to the surging popularity of the saffron party are Swachh Bharat, Ujjwala, Saubhagya and PM-KISAN schemes launched by the BJP-led Central Government, which have become a hit among the rural voters.
Earlier, the rural voters were evenly divided between BJD and Congress. But now, a third voter base has raised its head in the villages and this sudden surge in popularity of BJP has left both BJD and Congress leaders puzzled. Political observers opine that the prospects of BJP and its candidates are getting stronger in the tribal areas with each passing day and this trend, if continues, may eat into the vote banks of BJD and Congress.
BJP Koraput Lok Sabha candidate Jayaram Pangi hopes to ride on the Modi wave. “All candidates of the party will fare well in the polls this time,” claimed Pangi who was formerly with BJD. The BJP has also launched a high pitch campaign in Koraput with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan leading the charge.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik will hold a road show in Jeypore on Friday and the ruling outfit is hopeful it would negate the impact of Modi wave.