From red to green to saffron — Bengal’s political journey will look colourful if the BJP manages to push its vote share from a measly 6% in 2009 to more than 15% this time, as is being claimed by its leaders.
If BJP boss Rajnath Singh is to be believed, the party may win at least 10 seats and is already planning to play a crucial role in the 2016 assembly polls. In 2009, the BJP won only one seat with the help of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling.
BJP leaders said this time, it could also bag Asansol, a town on the border with Jharkhand, and Krishnanagar and Alipurduar — two important constituencies bordering Bangladesh. Plus, in border districts, such as Murshidabad, Malda, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, Hindu votes may work in its favour.
The reasons for the sudden rise of the BJP in Bengal, however, do not surprise observers. The Modi wave and Hindu vote mobilisation due to the alleged Muslim appeasement policy of the Mamata Banerjee government could have been the trigger.
That the TMC is worried about the BJP’s aggressive moves in the state is also evident from Banerjee’s rhetoric. "No NaMo NaMo. In the name of the Hindu-Muslim divide, some party is just trying to get a foothold here," she said in a recent rally.
But Rahul Sinha, state BJP president, said, "It is not only Darjeeling. Believe me we are going to shock a lot of people by winning more seats. This is despite the fact that in over a dozen seats, we will become a threat for others."
According to party sources, Satyabrata Mukherjee of the BJP has a better chance of winning Krishnanagar, as TMC MP and actor Tapas Pal has reportedly lost much of his popularity in the area.
In Alipurduar, the BJP polled nearly 2 lakh votes in 2009. It has a stronger presence this time with outfits such as Adivasi Bikas Parishad and Jharkhand party supporting it.
In Asansol, the BJP fielded singer Babul Supriyo to reach out to a huge Hindi speaking population, who have migrated from Bihar, Gujarat and Punjab, while TMC candidate Dola Sen is considered as an outsider by her own party colleagues.
TMC workers have already targeted Surpiyo’s campaign rallies. BJP leaders allege the police have also targeted him, questioning him for carrying arms. The BJP is also hopeful about magician PC Sarkar, who is contesting from Barasat.