Saffron Lotus, Green Leaves: BJP To Field More Muslim Candidates In West Bengal As Its Base In The Community ExpandsBharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers participate in a rally during a 12 hour long statewide strike ‘Bengal Strike’ (Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Given the dissatisfaction against Trinamool Congress in a section of the Bengali Muslim community, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is planning to field more minority candidates in West Bengal in the 2019 polls, reports Times Of India.

According to the 2011 Census, 27.1% residents of the state are Muslims. If BJP is able to tap into the constituency despite its strong stance against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, the electoral gains can be multiplied.

The party has already seen a breakthrough in Birbhum after Muslim-dominated Panrui village which was saffronised in 2014 polls.

Bengal BJP’s minority constituency is also on the rise. The party had 50,000 members in 2014 while at present the figure is more than 2 lakh, as stated by BJP Minority Morcha president Ali Hossain.

"There were two Muslim candidates in the Lok Sabha polls last time. The number is likely to increase this time," said a state BJP leader. While Mohammad Alam contested from Ghatal and won nearly 95,000 votes, Badsha Alam bagged around 86,000 votes in Tamluk, reported TOI.

Bengal BJP is now planning a mega outreach to minorities in the city after the rath yatra from 5 December. The party is also eyeing a prominent Muslim face for the polls, preferably a former minister to clarify that the party isn't against the Muslim community but illegal immigrants.

“ We have started working towards allaying fears that BJP is against the community. Moreover, Muslim women have realised how abolition of triple talaq can bring improvement in their lives,” State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said on Thursday.

"The party fielded around 800 Muslims in the 2018 panchayat polls. The figure was less than 100 in the 2011 rural polls," he said. He claimed people in Bengal had begun to consider BJP as a viable alternative to Trinamool. "Our base has strengthened in several districts where minority members are present in large numbers," Ghosh added.

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