The situation is favourable, but the organisation is lacking.
New Delhi: The BJP, which does not have much of organisational network in West Bengal where party president Amit Shah has set his eyes on winning at least 22 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, is banking on pro-Modi and anti-Mamata sentiments to bring the voters into its fold in the state.
Top BJP leaders familiar with the ground situation there told The Sunday Guardian that due to a lack of organisation and seriousness on the part of party’s state leaders, the party is facing an uphill task in attracting the electorate towards it though the political situation is quite conducive for a turnaround there.
Many top party leaders admitted that the target set by Shah of winning 22 seats was “too ambitious” as the party is yet to create a completely functional organisational structure in the state. According to them, the party had little or no presence on the ground in many districts, primarily because of “hooliganism” that they said is being used as a political tool by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government led by Mamata Banerjee in the state.
“Inflicting physical harm on opponents using muscle power and the police machinery was the hallmark of the previous Left-ruled government. When they were in power they used brute force to strangulate the opposition parties, including TMC. But after coming to power, Mamata is now herself using these tools to thwart our expansion in the state,” a senior BJP Rajya Sabha MP said.
“There are several areas where we cannot even hoist a BJP flag, let alone find a BJP worker. In this condition, how can anyone expect to wrest the seats that are presently with the TMC?” he wonders.
According to him, the only factor that could help BJP reach a double-digit figure in the state is the Modi factor. “Penetration of mobile phones and social media has made him a household name even in the remotest of areas where we do not have physical presence. Modi is very popular in rural areas, hence coupled with the anger against Mamata, we believe that we will win at least 10-12 seats,” he asserted.
According to another senior leader, the BJP central leadership, despite its best efforts, has not been able to create local faces in the state who could match Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and replicate her style of politics when she used to fight against the Left.
“West Bengal is a relatively new state for us, so if someone says that we are not able to match TMC, one also needs to keep in mind that whatever we have achieved, it has been in the relatively short period of five years. West Bengal is a place where violence is the norm and we do not take in goons in our party or promote such culture. It is true that organisationally we are very weak but we hope that the face of Modi will tide over this weakness,” a Union minister said.
According to him, there was a very strong likelihood that the sitting MP from Asansol and Union minister Babul Supriyo will not be given ticket this time as the chances of him losing the elections are very high.
According to these two leaders, Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was appointed as state in-charge around four years ago replacing Siddharth Nath Singh in July 2015, has failed to make a mark in the state. Sources said that he was a reluctant leader when it came to West Bengal and was more focused on what was happening in his home state Madhya Pradesh, where he has been a claimant to the Chief Minister’s chair for years now.
In a bid to “help” Vijayvargiya, Amit Shah had appointed RSS man Arvind Menon as co-incharge of the party affairs in the state in October last year.
However, West Bengal-based BJP leaders told The Sunday Guardian that the party was going to do well on at least 10 seats. “Agreed that we do not have a fully functional organisation in the state, agreed that there are many places where we do not have a single worker, but there is a very strong anti-Mamata Banerjee current in the state which is not visible to the media,” a BJP district president said.
“Bengalis are fed up with her policy of minority appeasement, so-called secularism and the climate of fear that have become the hallmark of this government. When the results are announced, you will see that the party will have crossed the two-digit number,” he signed off, exuding