The Bharatiya Janata Party is looking to put up a united face in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly elections and eyes an aggressive campaign to take on the Mamata Banerjee regime. According to a report in The Indian Express, the party’s Bengal unit has asked the national leadership to send six Union Ministers to launch its campaign.
Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in West Bengal in April-May 2021. The party wants to make it a BJP versus TMC battleground as it made significant gains in general elections held in May 2019. The BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats, increasing its tally from two in 2014.
The party has claimed that it is the end of the road for the Left and Congress in the eastern state. But the factions in its state unit have forced the party on the backfoot with leaders holding a series of parleys to check it doesn’t affect the cadre adversely.
On Wednesday, the party’s West Bengal core committee asked the national leadership to send Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, Prahlad Patel, Narendra Singh Tomar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Kiren Rijijju to the state for a party campaign. The meeting was attended by several state leaders, including the party’s general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
The party said that a full-time campaign mode is important to reach out to masses. Party sources told IE that ministers will campaign for about one and a half months and then a meeting will be held to decide the next course of action.
The names of the six ministers were decided while keeping the demography of West Bengal in the mind.
While Smriti Irani is fluent in Bangla, Dharmendra Pradhan can focus on areas that are close to Odisha. Kiren Rijiju will campaign in the areas near northeastern states and Naendra Singh Tomar is expected to counter the opposition’s campaign against the farm bills.
Piyush Goyal, who heads the Railways, can also be influential since the state has a wide network of the national transporter.
Prahlad Patel, the party feels, will fit in its election narrative focused on culture and youth. Patel is the Minister of Culture and Minister of Tourism.
Party leaders who attended the meeting, the IE report said, decided to soon embark on a massive campaign with focus on the ‘political killing, murder of democracy and the lawlessness in the state’ under Mamata Banerjee.
The party’s narrative will be that the Trinamool Congress is trying to change the cultural and social character of West Bengal.
The BJP has repeatedly accused Banerjee of indulging in appeasement politics to woo the Muslim voters which included illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The saffron party has already sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention to check radicalisation of youth. It has accused the TMC to turning Bengal into a ‘breeding ground for terrorism’.
Meanwhile, the BJP Yuva Morcha has announced to hold a protest rally in Kolkata on October 8 against the Mamata Banerjee government.