Politics

Amit Shah Sets Target For BJP In Bengal, Asks State Unit To Craft Winning Strategy  

BJP national president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • Micro-level surveys to be carried out to ascertain local situations across Bengal.

    State BJP leadership tasked with the systematic decimation of ‘Brand Mamata’, after corruption and thuggery prove to be her party’s biggest Achilles’ Heels.

    Major focus on middle and upper middle class Bengali Hindus, who have so far been wary of the BJP.

Bharatiya Janata President (BJP) president Amit Shah has set a winning target of 200 Assembly seats for Bengal in the 2021 state polls. Shah and other top central BJP leaders held a series of meetings with state party leaders in New Delhi on Sunday and Monday to get cracking on Bengal.

At a meeting with BJP’s Bengal office-bearers on Sunday, Shah asked the state leaders to carry out detailed and micro-level surveys of each Assembly constituency, as well as a SWOT analysis of all segments. This survey will be discussed threadbare in an extended state committee meeting in early August which Shah is likely to attend.

A multi-pronged strategy to oust the Trinamool and win Bengal in the next Assembly elections due two years from now is being finalised. The state unit will launch an ambitious membership drive immediately with the aim of enrolling two crore new members by the end of July. Simultaneously, the state unit will step up the ongoing campaign against the Trinamool over corruption and ‘cut money’ in order to embarrass Mamata Banerjee.

At Sunday’s meeting, the BJP national president reportedly asked state leaders to concentrate in urban areas of South Bengal, especially the Assembly constituencies in Kolkata. The BJP did not fare very well in Kolkata in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls. The state unit has been asked to craft a separate strategy aimed at winning over the Bengali Hindu middle class and upper middle class voters of Kolkata and other urban areas in south Bengal. Winning them over is crucial to the BJP’s success in 2021.

Shah pointed out that while the party did well in the Lok Sabha elections (BJP won 18 of the 42 seats while the Trinamool won 22), the state unit now needs to focus on south Bengal. If the results of the Lok Sabha polls are juxtaposed on Assembly constituencies, then the BJP got a convincing lead in 121 Assembly seats and lost by very narrow margins (less than 2,000 votes) in 23 seats. In another 18 seats, the BJP lost by less than 5,000 votes. The BJP leadership feels that while consolidating the gains in these 162-odd seats and winning them in 2021, bagging another 40-odd seats to post an impressive victory in the Assembly polls will not be a tough task.

“Our national leaders have asked us to redouble our efforts now and put in our best for 2021. There is no room for complacency. The momentum has to be kept up, and our offensive against the Trinamool has to be sharpened. We have been asked to intensify our campaign against corruption and malpractices by Trinamool leaders and step up the heat on Mamata Banerjee,” said a senior state office-bearer.

Significantly, while the BJP has relentlessly accused the Trinamool of corruption till now, its supremo Mamata Banerjee has not been targeted directly and personally by the BJP. That is set to change with the BJP deciding to target Mamata Banerjee herself and demolish her ‘clean’ image. The alleged amassing of wealth by her nephew and Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee as well as Mamata Banerjee’s brothers will be highlighted by the BJP and details of their properties will be dug up and exposed. “While Mamata Banerjee will seek to distance herself from her corrupt party colleagues, we will take the battle to her doorstep and expose her for shielding her own family members who have amassed huge wealth and properties. Her immediate family is her Achilles heel,” said the BJP office-bearer.

The BJP will provide tailwind to the ‘cut money’ controversy and turmoil that has gripped Bengal. The party units at the panchayat levels have been asked to gather details of commissions taken by Trinamool functionaries from beneficiaries of various government schemes and launch agitations against the corrupt. They have been asked to mobilise the masses against corrupt Trinamool leaders.

“Our task is made very easy by the fact that almost all Trinamool leaders from the lowest to the highest levels are corrupt and are involved in extortions and other illegal activities. People know that very well and have seen how Trinamool functionaries have prospered beyond imagination over the past 8 years since the Trinamool came to power in 2011.  So mobilising the masses who have suffered a lot due to Trinamool’s ‘tolabazi’ is not a difficult task at all,” said former state president Rahul Sinha.

The BJP in Bengal is also gearing up to highlight and educate the people of the state about the various central government schemes that Bengal is benefiting from. Details of all such schemes, along with the huge sums of money that the Bengal government has received from the Union government for implementing the welfare schemes, will be highlighted. “Mamata Banerjee has been hoodwinking the people of Bengal by saying that the Union government is denying funds to the state and has been passing off many Central welfare schemes as her own. We will expose her lies now. We will also expose how a lot of funds for many welfare schemes and development projects provided by the Union government to Bengal could not be utilised by the state,” said Sinha.

The BJP will also up the ante on other failings of the Mamata Banerjee government. “The Trinamool government has failed to bring in fresh investments and, at the same time, due to the prevailing hostile environment in the state, industrial units are closing down. Rampant extortions by Trinamool leaders have forces businesses to shift out of Bengal. Joblessness has increased and the state’s debt burden has more than doubled over the past 8 years. What can be a greater shame than the fact that liquor is the primary revenue earner for Bengal now. Lawlessness prevails and the state machinery, the police force and academia have been totally politicised. We will highlight all these failures and make our campaigns against the Trinamool for these failures more aggressive,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

Apart from all this, the party has also asked its MLAs to take the battle against the Trinamool to the floor of the Assembly. “They (the party MLAs) have been asked to go on the offensive on issues of corruption, misgovernance, unemployment, financial indiscipline and unemployment. Our objective is to mount a concerted challenge to the Trinamool inside the Assembly and outside on the streets, and to convince all sections of the people of Bengal that the BJP is the primary contender for power and will win the 2021 Assembly polls. We have to put Mamata Banerjee on the defensive and we know that once she is on the backfoot, she will become desperate and commit mistakes which will further dent her image and damage her party’s electoral prospects. We will portray her as a chief minister whose months are numbered, a chief minister whose political ‘expiry date’ is very near,” said Ghosh.

The constituency-wise SWOT analysis will commence from this week itself. Apart from local party units being the primary agents for carrying out this detailed exercise, professionals and others affiliated to the party will also carry out their own independent surveys and analyses. All these will be studied in depth and tallied by the state leadership and a strategy crafted in close consultation with the party’s central leadership.

“While our electoral strategy will be tailored to address local issues in every constituency, it will also vary from region to region and from urban to semi-urban and rural constituencies. But the overall strategy will be to highlight corruption and the rot within the Trinamool and the myriad failings of the Trinamool government under Mamata Banerjee,” said a senior state leader.

That Shah and the top leadership of the party are serious about bagging Bengal in 2021 is evident from the fact that the Central leadership has decided to review the campaign against the Trinamool with the state unit every month. “We will meet our central leadership, including Amit Shah, J.P. Nadda (the national working president), Ram Lal (general secretary--organisation) and other senior office-bearers every month to review the progress of our campaign in Bengal. Our central leadership has taken keen interest in Bengal and this serves as a big boost to our collective enthusiasm and resolve to unseat the Trinamool from power in Bengal,” said Ghosh.

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