Buoyed by its performance in the rural polls, the West Bengal BJP unit is set to submit its Lok Sabha blueprint, targeting 26 Parliamentary seats in the state, to party president Amit Shah during his visit to the state this week.
Shah is scheduled to arrive in West Bengal on a two-day visit from June 27 during which he is expected to hold deliberations on the BJP’s political strategy with leaders of the state, where the saffron party is toiling hard to improve its tally in the upcoming general elections.
The BJP president had set the target of winning 22 seats out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.
The party presently has two Lok Sabha seats — Asansol and Darjeeling — in the state.
“We will submit our complete report to Amit Shah. He had given us a target of 22 seats, but if the elections are held in a fair manner, we are in a position to win at least 26 seats,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told PTI.
“We will submit our strategy report to him and restructure it according to his instructions,” he said.
Although the state leadership is elated over its performance in the recent panchayat polls, it is having a tough time in scouting for answers over its “inability” to constitute committees in more than 77,000 polling stations of the state and bring intellectuals on board for campaigns.
The 26 seats where the BJP’s chances of winning are more than 60 to 70 per cent are spread across North Bengal, South Bengal and tribal-dominated districts of Junglemahal, said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Some of the seats which the BJP will be targeting in the next Lok Sabha polls are Balurghat, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Malda North in North Bengal and Purulia, Jhargram, Medinipur, Krishnagar, Howrah in South Bengal.
The state unit in its report has also mentioned about Asansol Lok Sabha seat that it had won the last time but showed apprehensiveness about the Darjeeling seat following the change in political equation in the Hills, where the present GJM leadership, under Binay Tamang, is more inclined towards ruling TMC, said the BJP leader.
According to Ghosh, the performance of BJP in the last month’s panchayat polls despite ruling TMC’s “reign of terror”, has accelerated the ground-level political situation of the state.
The party has also appointed observers for each of the 42 Lok Sabha seats as well as the assembly seats in the state to strengthen the organisation at the booth level.
Be it tribal-dominated districts like Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura or districts in North Bengal such as Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur or Muslim-dominated Malda, the saffron party’s performance in rural polls has cemented its position as the main opposition in the state by relegating the CPI(M) and the Congress to distant third and fourth positions respectively.
However, the gap between the ruling TMC and the surging BJP is still wide, if the overall rural polls and assembly bypoll results were to be taken into consideration.
According to the state leadership, Shah will also seek a report on the creation of committees at all booths, a target he had set during his visit in September last year.
“We have been able to reach out to 60-70 percent booths. Our primary objective is to take our organisation to all the booths of the state and strengthen it,” BJP national general secretary and in-charge of Bengal, Kailash Vijayvergiya, told PTI.
Ghosh, however, claimed that after rural polls, the party has been able to cover 85 per cent booths in the state.
“We have not been able to reach out to all the booths, especially the minority-dominated districts of Malda, Murshidabad. We have a support base, but no one is ready to man the booth committees fearing backlash by the TMC. We hope things will change in the days to come,” Ghosh said.
On the issue of roping in intellectuals, who act as catalysts in creating public opinion and has been a notable factor in decimating the 34-year-old Left Regime, the state unit is yet to taste considerable success.
The party’s central leadership has stressed the need to rope in intellectuals and had asked the state unit to create an IT cell. Shah, during his visit, is scheduled to address a meet of intellectuals.
“We have met more than 500 intellectuals in the last few months but not many of them have come forward to join us.
During the last two intellectuals’ meet, we have not been able to rope anyone prominent. We hope things are different this time,” said another BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.
Ghosh along with a senior BJP central leader had approached Samir Aich, an eminent painter, and requested him to attend the intellectuals meet.
“But he was not interested in attending the meet. Let’s see what happens,” he said.
Aich along with other intellectuals had stood by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee during her anti-land acquisition struggle, but later became a critic of the TMC government and its policies.
State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu agreed that party got in touch with several intellectuals but “there is no confirmation” on how many will attend the programme.
“We are in touch with people from all walks and all sections of society,” he added.