STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhubaneswar, 16 July
Much to the relief of the state BJP leaders , Gujarat Chief Minister and national campaign committee chairman Narendra Modi made it clear that the party has to capitalise on the local anti-incumbency factor in Odisha.
Though Mr Modi did not name his Odisha counterpart Mr Naveen Patnaik or criticise the BJD, his single sentence asking party men to occupy the space provided by the anti-incumbency and disillusionment amongst the people, cheered the state BJP leadership. It assumed significance in the light of speculations that Modi would not like to close any door which provides an opening for a post-poll arrangement to help form the next government at the centre.
The state BJP managed to get Mr Modi to interact with party leaders in what was otherwise planned to be a completely religious and personal visit to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath, Puri.
Addressing the party leaders at Puri, Mr Modi , spoke about his campaign plans and asked each worker to go to the people, hold meetings, dharnas and use the social media.
Earlier, in a brief statement to the media right in front of the Jagannath Temple where thousands had gathered to greet him, Modi said, in Odia language, I have come from the land of Somnath to the land of Lord Jagannath to seek His blessings. “Jai Jagannath, Bande Utkal Janani”, he said drawing a huge round of applause. I feel blessed to be here in this holy land, he said before going on to laud the contribution of Odisha in the development and progress of Gujarat.
Significantly, Mr Modi had a one-on-one meeting with Sankaracharya Swami Nichilananda Saraswati and the Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deo.
While the meeting with the Puri Maharaja was devoid of any political overtones, the one with the Sankaracharya is said to have touched on politics, future of the nation. Talking to reporters the Sankaracharya said that Modi had sought his blessings to serve the nation and he in turn had asked him to work for one and all , protect the integrity of the country. Take care of all while preserving our own culture and religion , advised the Puri seer.
Earlier during the day, Modi was accorded a rousing welcome by enthusiastic BJP workers at Bhubaneswar Airport and Puri. He responded by waiving to the crowd. The state unit of the BJP had put up huge posters of Modi all over the place and mobilised workers from different districts.