Meet The Leader From UP's Mirzapur Who Helped BJP Increase its Vote Share in Odisha
As BJP’s national general secretary and party in-charge for Odisha since 2014, it has been Arun Singh’s dream to increase the popularity and the electoral performance of the party and make it the eastern state’s ruling party in 2019.
That dream remained unfulfilled but, the outcomes of the 2019 polls clearly left the BJP with more confidence and stronger resolve
The suave, articulate politician was BJP chief Amit Shah’s point man in the saffron party’s campaign blitzkrieg in Odisha. Like the state’s four-term Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the 54-year-old Singh, who hails from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, cannot speak Odia. But, he managed to ensure that his aides made him understand the nuances of the language used in the state’s political discourse well enough for him to be able to speak to the media at length. Among BJP leaders in Odisha, Singh is perhaps the most media-friendly and accessible.
Long before PM Minister Narendra Modi at a campaign rally ahead of the last phase, said that Naveen Patnaik’s government was on its way out, Singh had made it a habit to take potshots at the Biju Janata Dal government. BJP’s cadres were enthused by Singh’s statements like “Ab Naveen Patnaik ki Sarkar jaanewali hai (Now Naveen Patnaik’s government will go)” and “Odisha me Naveen Patnaik ki sarkaar haar chuki hai (The Naveen Patnaik-led government in Odisha has already lost)”.
Although those statements eventually proved futile, they had a lasting impact on the BJP workers who worked harder towards fulfilling the party’s dream of conquering the eastern state. The Lok Sabha polls saw BJP raising its 2014 tally of a measly one seat to eight. Odisha sends 21 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the simultaneously-held Assembly polls, BJP managed to win 23 seats as opposed to the 10 it had gotten in 2014. The party’s vote share this time also increased from 21.9 per cent to 38.37 per cent while the ruling BJD’s fell from 44.1 per cent to 42.76 per cent. BJP’s vote share in Odisha’s Assembly polls also rose significantly from 18.2 per cent to 32.5%.
A retired chartered accountant and longtime RSS member, Singh has played a crucial role in managing BJP’s campaigns during the four-phase simultaneous polls.