Dilip Ghosh says BJP will make Bengal nation’s most secure state.
New Delhi: The BJP has emerged as the top contender against the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress following the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when the party had won 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state. Since then, the BJP has pinned high hopes this time around to overthrow the 10-year rule of the TMC in Bengal.
With barely two weeks left for the first phase of the election to begin in West Bengal, The Sunday Guardian spoke to the president of the BJP’s Bengal unit Dilip Ghosh on a slew of issues ranging from the en masse joining of TMC leaders into the BJP, the question about who would be the Chief Ministerial candidate for the BJP if the party wins or will the party declare a CM face before the elections. Excerpts:
Q: What are the key issues for the BJP in Bengal on which the party is going to centre its election campaign around?
A: BJP is going to focus on the positive issues of Bengal, the aim of the party is to create Sonar Bangla through all round development. For the last several decades, there has been no industrialisation in Bengal, there are no jobs. Every year, thousands of young and talented people from our state are forced to migrate to other states in search of jobs. We want to make Bengal an industrial state. Returning democracy to the state is another key issue. The education and health sectors of the state are also in shambles, and we would like to work on these two sectors as well. Law and order is another important issue as it has totally collapsed in the state. Earlier in the week, Mamata Banerjee herself complained that she was pushed in Nandigram and has hurt her foot; this proves that the law-and-order situation in Bengal is very poor. If a Z+ security protectee like the Chief Mister who is also the Home Minister of the state, is pushed in front of her security then one can understand where the law-and-order system in the state has gone. Law and order of the state needs to be restored and only then industries and development of the state can happen. The other important issue is the safety and security of women in the state. We want to make Bengal the most secure state in the country.
Q: The en masse joining of TMC MLAs, MPs, and other party members into the BJP has created a narrative that the BJP is now a “modified TMC”. As the state head of the party, how do you look at this?
A: The TMC was also formed by taking people from different political parties and people had accepted them; then Mamata Banerjee herself was from the Congress. So, in a political democracy, people keep moving from one party to the other from time to time and this is not a new thing.
In the past, the BJP has been a small party in Bengal. However due to BJP’s growing grassroots presence and focus on development, BJP is expanding across the state. Also, seeing BJP emerge as the only viable alternative to politics in Bengal, multiple prominent political figures from other parties joined the party to deliver to our vision of “Sonar Bangla”. We have welcomed them with open arms, and BJP is a party with a big heart. This will naturally add weight to the political profile of the party in the state.
Q: But, some of these political leaders who have joined the BJP in the past couple of months are those same leaders against whom the BJP had raised issues of corruption, “cut money” and violence. How would the BJP now make corruption and violence an issue?
A: We have already set our agenda and devised our strategy and there will be no changes to that. If someone is guilty, there is law and law will take its own course. The Supreme Court and the CBI is also doing their investigation into these cases and we have trust and belief in the investigative agencies. If someone is found guilty, they will definitely be punished and if the agencies call them for questioning, they will have to go and give them answers. The BJP would not be responsible for any of those matters and the party would also not interfere into these things.
Q: Organisationally, the BJP is still weak in many places, especially in districts like South 24 Parganas and some of the minority dominated districts, but with just days away from the elections, what is the strategy here?
A: I agree that in some places you have talked about, organisationally the BJP is weak. In places where the minority population is about 50 to 90% the party has not been able to make inroads or have any electoral benefits. But I would say this has been more due to the fear psychosis that has been created against our party by the TMC. Once the government changes the organisation, these places will also increase.
Also, let me add that we will be getting seats from every district. From some districts the number of seats may be less, while from the others we will win most of the seats.
Q: So, are you focusing on the minority dominated seats? Is the BJP hoping to get votes from these places? If yes, how?
A: In the last few months, a large number of people from the minority community have joined the BJP and we expect to get some votes from the community. This is because the minorities of Bengal have always been used for vote bank politics by different parties for the last 45 years, while no one cared for their development. On the other hand, they have seen the development style of Modiji, where he has ensured “Sab ka saath sab ka vikas”, and that the BJP only focuses on development and not appeasement.
Q: Before the 2019 elections, attacking the TMC, you had said “2019 e half, 2021 saaf”. Are you still confident that by 2021 the BJP will be able to “saaf” (clean away) the TMC?
A: I have not only said this, we have shown it to the people. After the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, TMC has actually been halved in the Lok Sabha and now we are very confident that the TMC will be “saaf” from Bengal on 2 May. This is because the common people are fed up with Mamata Banerjee and her style of politics and governance. The people of Bengal have made up their mind and have decided to place their trust on the BJP and have blessed us and helped Bengal work towards the path of “Asol Poriborton”.
Q: The big question that is doing the rounds in Bengal is Mamata vs Who? Some sections of your opponents say that the BJP does not have any credible CM face, while some say that the BJP has multiple CM candidates which is why they are scared to declare a face as it could lead to internal rift. Does the BJP have a CM face for Bengal in mind?
A: At one time, they used to say ask where is the face of the BJP and now the TMC is campaigning that there are too many CM faces in the BJP; we are happy that we have been able to grow from there to here.
We are not worrying about the CM candidate right now since in Bengal this is the first time we are going to come to power and there is no established face here. Once we win, several leaders will be created and it will be decided by the highest decision-making body of the party. Having said, this it is also pertinent to note that the BJP has won elections and formed governments in many states where it went without a CM face.
Q: So, does this mean that if Suvendu Adhikari who is contesting against Mamata Banerjee wins, he will naturally be the top contender for the post of BJP’s CM in Bengal?
A: Suvendu Adhikari will definitely win against Mamata Banerjee, but whether this would make him the Chief Minister of Bengal, that neither can I say nor can he. There is a system in the party and the senior leaders of the party will take a decision.
Q: Is Dilip Ghosh also one of the top contenders for the post of CM if the party wins, since it would be unfair not to credit you with the victory as the party has grown under your leadership.
A: The party has not yet told me anything of that nature. My responsibility as the party chief of the state is to ensure that all our candidates win from the state and I will follow my responsibility like I have done all through my life. Rest whatever the party will say I will follow it as a loyal soldier of the party.