File Photo
File Photo

With the 2020 Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections finally done and dusted, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has expectedly turned its full attention towards 'Mission Bengal' ahead of the assembly polls in the state next year.

The saffron party is hoping to come to power in the politically crucial eastern state for the first time by ending Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's 10-year old rule.

Dilip Ghosh raises the stakes

BJP West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh on Monday posed a challenge to state minister Jyotipriyo Mallick that the saffron party will defeat him from any seat he chooses to contest from during the assembly elections due in April-May next year.

The BJP leader made the remark at a tea session with party workers at Barasat, the district headquarters of North 24 Parganas.

Ghosh has also seemingly upped the ante several notches higher against his rivals, asserting that his party, if voted to power in next assembly polls, will emulate Gujarat's growth model to develop this state, and slammed the successive governments for not doing enough to create jobs.

Criticising the erstwhile Left Front dispensation for alleged politicisation of the education system, he said Bengal, which once produced the finest scientists, doctors and engineers, is now churning out migrant labourers.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front turned the state into a hub of migrant workers who would have to go to states like Gujarat for work, Ghosh claimed during a 'chai pe charcha' session at Barasat in North 24 Parganas.

"Didimoni (Mamata Banerjee) often says that we (BJP) are trying to turn Bengal into Gujarat, I say that we will certainly do so and turn it into a developed state. Our men and women don't have to go there for work. We will ensure employment opportunities are available here," he said.

Bengalis do not make it to merit lists of competitive exams anymore, he stated.

Re-allocation in BJP's Bengal unit

BJP President JP Nadda on Friday announced work allocation among the party's national office-bearers. Kailash Vijayvargiya will continue to be in-charge of West Bengal where elections are due in the first half of next year and the BJP is making a determined bid to come to power. He will be assisted by Arvind Menon and Amit Malviya, who is head of BJP's IT cell.

Kailash Vijayvargiya said earlier this week that West Bengal will be the "prime focus" for BJP where it has set a target of winning more than 200 out of the total 294 seats in the state elections due in April-May 2021.

Aftermath of Bihar polls

After Bihar, where the BJP with its score of 74 seats has emerged as the party to have won the second-highest number of seats after Lalu Prasad's RJD, the saffron camp is now shifting its focus to politically crucial West Bengal, which sends 42 MPs to the Lok Sabha - two more than Bihar.

The BJP, which has made deep inroads in West Bengal by winning 18 of its 42 Lok Sabha seat - four less than ruling TMC in the 2019 general election, was waiting for the Bihar election results before mounting its "final assault" on the Mamata Banerjee government, party sources said.

The BJP camp is of the opinion that not just Bihar assembly poll results, the saffron party's victory in several by-polls across the country show that not only has the faith of the people in it increased but also in the policies of the BJP government at the Centre.

"The ground in Bengal is well prepared for a change and we have to ensure that the anger against the TMC government is channelised. We will use all our energy to free the people of the state from the misrule of TMC," Vijayvargiya asserted.

A section of the state BJP leaders, however, underlined that the Bihar election results will have little impact on polls in West Bengal, other than seats along the border. But it will act as a "morale booster" for party workers in Bengal.

Several state BJP leaders said the party will take a cue from the Bihar poll results and "re-strategise" its campaign issues for the West Bengal elections.

PM Modi and Amit Shah up their ante

Union Home Minister and top BJP leader Amit Shah during his visit to the state last week had said that West Bengal is the "prime focus state" for the party and it will "fight and win it with a massive mandate".

To corner TMC, the BJP has been so far stressing on its alleged misrule, law and order issues, violence, corruption and the state administration's handling of the COVID-19 situation in West Bengal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also launched a veiled attack on ruling TMC in West Bengal, saying those who cannot challenge the saffron party democratically have resorted to "murdering" its workers to achieve their goals.

"Maut ka khel" (killing game) cannot get you votes," Modi said in an address to BJP workers at an event in the party's headquarters in New Delhi to mark its victory in Bihar assembly polls and bypolls across the country.

Without naming any party, he said, "Those who aren't able to challenge us in a democratic way, they have taken the path of killing India's workers. In some parts of the country, they think they can realise their goals by killing BJP workers."

Mamata poses a tough challenge

On the other hand, the ruling Trinamool Congress said earlier this week that it didn't believe in violence and killings, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask the West Bengal BJP leadership to refrain from engaging in violence ahead of the state assembly polls next year.

The TMC, while reacting to the attack, claimed Modi should give the advice to the state BJP leadership as it is the saffron camp which has unleashed violence across the state.

Although BJP has the advantage of being an "untested challenger" in West Bengal where it has never been in power, the party is well aware that it will be up against Mamata Banerjee, who has the reputation of being a tough fighter, sources said.

The central BJP leadership has asked the state leaders to fan out to the districts and organise agitations and mass mobilisations on issues the people are concerned about, before the Congress and Left Front capitalises on those problems, sources in the saffron party said.

"People will see several agitations in different assembly segments over local issues from November-December onwards," a BJP leader said adding the party is also working to plug the gaps in its organisational strength in some districts.

The Trinamool Congress mocked the saffron party's target of winning more than 200 seats in the state.

"As far as coming to power in West Bengal is concerned, the BJP is still living in a fool's paradise. Its candidates will lose deposits in most of the seats," TMC MP and spokesperson Saugato Roy said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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