It was a big moment for the Odisha BJP as a meeting of this size was taking place after 20 years. The BJP had organised its national executive meeting in 1997. The entire city has been decked with huge posters and cutouts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. There were also photographs of 13 BJP Chief Ministers and Parliamentary Board members. A full AC pandal on an area of 51,000 sq feet out of a total carpet area of 80,000 sq feet has been erected at Janata Maidan, the venue for the meeting.

Pramod Kumar Sahoo, who runs a sweet shop near Lingaraj Temple, is a happy man as he got an order to prepare the “Korakhai”, a special sweet, for the Prime Minister, who is expected to offer it to Lord Lingaraj on Sunday morning. “Korakhai’ is made of khai, sugar, coconut and cardamoms.

Amit Shah, who came to Bhubaneswar a day before the national executive meeting, had a taste of Odiya culture as he drank Pana, a traditional drink (made of milk, ripe bael, yoghurt, coconut and spices) enjoyed on Mahabishubha Sankranti or the Odiya new year, which was on Friday, accompanied by bhajans dedicated to Lord Jagannath.

In a bid to reach out to Dalits, the BJP has named the Janata Maidan as “Bhima Bhoi Ground”, in honour of the great revolutionary 19th century saint and Odiya poet. Shah also garlanded the statue of B.R. Ambedkar.

The Odisha police has made elaborate arrangements for the two-day event, which is being attended by 106 VVIPs of the BJP. While 28 leaders, including 13 Chief Ministers, are covered by Z-Plus security, 26 others enjoy Z category security.

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