As BJP Shifts Focus To Bengal, This Is What The Party Could Do To Unseat Mamata Banerjee In The State Next Year

As BJP Shifts Focus To Bengal, This Is What The Party Could Do To Unseat Mamata Banerjee In The State Next Year

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Wednesday, November 18, 2020 04:19 PM IST
As BJP Shifts Focus To Bengal, This Is What The Party Could Do To Unseat Mamata Banerjee In The State Next YearHome Minister Amit Shah.
  • Here’s what the BJP could do to unseat Mamata Banerjee in Bengal.

With Bihar under its belt, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shifted its focus to Bengal that is expected to go to the polls in April-May next year.

BJP national president J P Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have deployed a number of trusted senior party functionaries with proven organisational skills to study the ground situation and submit reports that will help them firm up a battle plan by early next month.

Top party functionaries, including central leaders, have been holding a series of meetings over the last two days to take stock of the ground situation in Bengal.

The party’s national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya, national vice-president Mukul Roy, national secretary Arvind Menon and state president Dilip Ghosh met presidents of the district units at the BJP office at Hastings in Kolkata on Tuesday.

BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar, who will coordinate election affairs with the district units of Howrah, Hooghly and Purba and Paschim Midnapore, has also arrived in Kolkata to meet party functionaries of the state.

BJP national general secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam, landed in Kolkata on Wednesday morning. He has been made the coordinator for Kolkata and the North and South 24 Parganas districts.

Two more national secretaries — Vinod Tawde, who has been made the coordinator for the central Bengal (Nadia, Mushidabad and Birbhum districts), and Harish Dwivedi who has been put in charge of the North Bengal districts — are also expected to arrive in Kolkata.

Party national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and joint general secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash will also be taking part in the exercise.

All these central leaders will hold intensive discussions over the next few days with party functionaries across all levels.

The primary focus is to strengthen the party organisation at the booth level to take on the Trinamool.

The central leaders will prepare detailed reports and submit it to party chief Nadda and Shah by the end of the month.

Nadda and his predecessor (Shah) will then evaluate the reports and draw a concrete battle plan that will be put into action from the first week of December.

Nadda and Shah will visit Bengal early next month to oversee implementation of the battle plan and enthuse party cadres.

Many more central leaders are slated to visit Bengal over the next few weeks, signalling the party’s intent to deploy all its formidable fire power and resources to unseat Mamata Banerjee from power next year.

But the BJP would do well to take into consideration a few factors and circumstances that can hamper its bid to come to power in Bengal.

The foremost among them is the infighting and ego clashes that have emerged in the party’s state unit of late. That is what prompted the party top brass to deploy so many central leaders to micro-manage affairs in Bengal.

But deploying central leaders is not enough. The party leadership must make it clear to the state leaders that they have to sink their differences and work unitedly, or retire to the sidelines.

This message should be conveyed very unequivocally and firmly to a few state leaders who are working at cross-purposes and harbour illusions that they are bigger than the party.

Also, while deploying central leaders to Bengal is fine, care must be taken to keep state leaders in the forefront. This will serve to blunt the Trinamool’s charge that the BJP is a party of ‘outsiders’.

State party leaders must be made the public face of the BJP and the central leaders who have been made coordinators and put in charge of various responsibilities would do well to work from backstage, away from media glare.

The BJP central leadership also has to take resolute action to stop the attacks on and murders of grassroots party functionaries by Trinamool goons.

The unabated attacks on BJP workers, especially in the rural areas, are bound to affect their morale. If the BJP is unable to protect its own cadres, the latter will have little reason to work for the party.

The Union government, especially the Ministry of Home Affairs, must take the state government to task over the continuing political violence in Bengal and issue a stern warning to the ruling Trinamool as well as the state machinery that attacks on opposition functionaries and workers must come to an end.

The Bengal government must be warned of severe and punitive action if the ruling party continues to misuse the state machinery for its political ends and keeps on targeting opposition functionaries.

Such warnings must be backed by exemplary action in order to ensure that the message goes through to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The latter ought to be made to realise that the price for violating the law and rules of fair play will be very steep.

The MHA, which controls the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has to ask the latter to wind up its investigations into the chit fund scams in which a number of senior Trinamool leaders are allegedly involved.

The investigations have been dragging for more than six years and there is no conceivable reason for the probe not being completed till now.

The BJP leadership had used the scams to target the Trinamool in the 2016 assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party leadership had repeatedly charged the top Trinamool leadership with involvement in the mega scams.

If the CBI fails to submit the final chargesheets naming Trinamool leaders even after so many years, the BJP’s earlier campaigns and allegations run the risk of being discredited, and that should be avoided at all costs.

The BJP should also launch a high-pitched campaign to focus on Banerjee’s misgovernance and expose the hollowness of her claims about lakhs of people being benefited by the various welfare schemes like Swathya Sathi, Kanyashree and Rupashree that she touts.

A no-holds-barred and unapologetic campaign to highlight the misuse and non-utilisation of central funds should also be launched to mobilise public opinion against the Trinamool.

But what is of utmost importance for the BJP is to offer a concrete plan to rejuvenate the state’s economy, education, health and social sectors, draw investments and create employment opportunities in Bengal.

The BJP should not limit itself to running a negative campaign against the Trinamool; instead, it has to offer its own vision and game plan for Bengal’s development and sell it to the people of the state. This has to be done by the end of this year.

Only if all this is done will the BJP be able to inflict a crushing defeat on Mamata Banerjee.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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