Bhubaneswar: BJP's two-day national executive meeting will begin here on Saturday with all the party bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, joining the deliberations. The BJP will chalk out a strategy to strengthen the party's base in newer areas, especially the eastern and southeast coastal region, with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Besides party veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union ministers, chief ministers of 13 BJP-ruled states and three deputy chief ministers will attend the meet.
Shah reached Odisha on Friday to attend the BJP National Executive meeting. He was offered lotus garland by state BJP chief Basant Panda and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
BJP has named the venue of its national executive meeting here after the Dalit poet Bhima Bhoi apparently to woo Dalits who comprise over 17 percent of Odisha's population.
Of the 147 Assembly segments in Odisha, 23 seats are reserved for scheduled caste candidates while three of its 21 Lok Sabha seats are allotted to the dalit community.
BJP had won only two SC seats in the assembly and none of the three LS seats allotted to the community.
Despite the Narendra Modi wave in 2014, the BJP couldn't perform well in the eastern, coastal and the Coromandel region (India's south-eastern coastal region). The party is also apprehensive that it might not be able to repeat its 2014 Lok Sabha success in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2019.
Party strategists feel that there will be some fall in numbers in these states in the 2019 elections.
To offset these losses, the party has decided to venture into new territory.
These areas include 25 seats of Andhra Pradesh, 19 of Kerala, 21 of Odisha, 39 of Tamil Nadu, 17 of Telangana, 42 of West Bengal, 40 of Bihar, 48 of Maharashtra and over a dozen states in other parts of the region.
Ahead of the BJP National Executive meeting, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said Odisha will be a laboratory for testing of the BJP-led central government's pro-poor policies.