The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is adopting a Look East policy with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, for which the tone was set at the ongoing National Executive meeting here on Saturday.

After successfully conquering northern, central and western states, the party is planning to give a major push in eastern states like Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana, where it has been weak, traditionally, so far. However, the recent electoral successes in the Odisha panchayat elections and also in West Bengal, has filled the party with great enthusiasm. The party feels that the momentum should be continued in order to consolidate its position in these states.

Sources said that the party was initially planning to hold the National Executive meeting in Lucknow in view of the grand success in the UP Assembly elections. However, as part of the “Look East” approach, BJP president Amit Shah suggested that the meet should be held in Bhubaneswar, to give a strong push to its efforts to return to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“We were successful in northern, central and western states in the last Lok Sabha elections. But we should not undermine the possibility of anti-incumbency as well. So there could be electoral setbacks in some of the seats, despite our best efforts. So our strategy is to target new areas/regions which have so far not yielded positive results in favour of our party,” said a party source.

In his address at the two-day meeting, being organised at the Janata Maidan, Amit Shah asked party workers not to be slack due to the recent victories and exhorted them to work hard to achieve the aim of bringing India’s “golden era”. “Let us work to ensure that the BJP is in power—right from the panchayat to Parliament. This only will bring BJP’s ‘golden era’. But our ultimate aim should be to restore the ‘golden era’ of our country,” he told party workers.

Pointing at the electoral success in Assam and Manipur, Shah said: “We have succeeded in places where we were traditionally weak. We have to resolve that we will consolidate our position in states like West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, etc.” He expressed satisfaction over the recent success in the panchayat elections in Odisha and said people of the state now want change and are looking towards to the BJP. Taking a dig at the Naveen Patnaik government, he said it has failed on the governance front and as a result, Odisha is much behind other states on development parameters. The BJP chief also expressed satisfaction that the party is gradually acquiring the second position in West Bengal. As part of the party’s plan to consolidate the recent gains made by it, all the working committee members have been asked to devote at least 15 days’ time for interacting with the workers at the booth level. Shah himself will tour the country extensively for 95 days till September.

Quoting Shah, senior BJP leader and Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “When we won the 2014 elections, they said BJP has reached its peak. After the recent UP victory also, they are saying that the BJP has reached its peak. But actually, the BJP is yet to reach its peak. We will not reach the peak until BJP becomes a pan India party, and all the states have our own Chief Ministers.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given a grand welcome when he landed at the Biju Patnaik International Airport. He stepped down from his car and walked on the road to greet the people. Earlier in the day, state units presented their report during the office bearers’ meeting. The meeting is expected to pass political and economic resolutions on Sunday.

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