Eyeing 2019, BJP to hold national executive meet in Odisha on Saturday

In Odisha, Pradhan cited the panchayat polls and said the results showed the BJP's support base had grown beyond the traditional tribal belts to the state's western and coastal regions.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is on a two-visit to Bhubaneswar for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive meeting said this meet can prove to be a milestone in the upcoming elections of Odisha.

Bhubaneswar has been decked for the meeting, with the BJP appearing to send the message of a triumphant Modi arriving to storm the state. The only other leader visible in the posters is Shah.

The Dalits constitute over 17 per cent of the state's electorate and have never been traditional voters of the saffron party, which is now wooing them aggressively. During the brainstorming sessions at the meet, party leaders are expected to highlight the success stories from other states with a special mention of Uttar Pradesh where.

"The Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Deputy Chief Ministers coming here to attend the BJP's national executive meeting will be treated as State guests", said the Chief Minister's Office (CMO).

Just over a month after BJP's encouraging performance in Odisha panchayat elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down at Biju Patnaik Airport here on a warm Saturday afternoon and braved the heat to connect with people on his 4-km long road show. In 1998, the NDA formed its government at the Centre under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee and the BJD joined the government. Adding momentum to the party's surge in the State, the BJP president Amit Shah, yesterday made a strong pitch for the "Odisha focus" future polls to check the ruling BJD to bounce back in 2019 Assembly election.

The BJP also has eyes glued to fissures in the Naveen-led BJD.

Asked, party insiders said that the garlands represented the number of Lok Sabha (21) seats and assembly seats (147) in Odisha.

After a 20-minute halt at Raj Bhavan, Modi resumed his roadshow.

The national executive meeting was last held in Odisha in 1997.