Determined to project itself as the most potent political force before the three-tier panchayat elections in Bengal next year, the state BJP has started acting on the blueprint party president Amit Shah prepared during his three-day trip last week. “The CPI(M) and Congress may not be able to contest all the seats in the panchayats but we will do it. We will leave only the seats in the Darjeeling hills for the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh announced on Tuesday at the end of three-day meeting of the state executive committee in Burdwan.
The meeting was followed by a public rally.
Going by the strategy the BJP plans to follow, the CPI(M) should have more reasons to worry than Trinamool Congress. For, taking on the proverbial organizational strategy of the Marxists, Shah has specifically asked state BJP leaders and workers to rise and spread from the state’s 77,000 odd polling booth areas.
“We will strengthen our presence at the booth level. To achieve this, party workers across Bengal will undergo training in May. The panchayat polls will be the quarter-final, the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 will be the semi-final and the Assembly polls (in 2021) will be the final,” said Dilip Ghosh.
To keep the ruling party under pressure, the BJP will stage agitation outside the Kolkata Police headquarters at Lalbazar on May 25 demanding arrest of accused in Narada and Saradha scams.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told the CBI not to spare the guilty in any investigation. Those named in the Narada FIR will surely land in jail,” Kailash Vijayvargiya, national general secretary and observer for Bengal, said in Burdwan on Tuesday.
To strengthen the organisation and fortify it, Shah told party leaders at a closed-door meeting last Thursday that the process of purchasing land and property for setting up ‘karyalayas’ or party offices in all districts should be completed by June this year, senior state BJP leaders told HT.
If the BJP can successfully replicate the Left model, it will be easier for the party to not only counter the Trinamool but win over disillusioned Left supporters as well, state BJP leaders feel. Interestingly, the Rashtriya Shyamshevak Sangh (RSS), too, has spread its organisation following the strategy of cadre-based parties. Even CPI(M) and Trinamool leaders acknowledge the fact that the BJP owes a significant portion of its recent electoral success in Bengal to the rise of the RSS.
“We will not depend on state or central forces to counter violence and electoral malpractice during the elections. We will set up a 20-member committee for every booth. These committees will interact with local people,” announced Ghosh on Tuesday. The CPI(M) and other Left parties have also depended for decades on booth committees to stay in touch with voters.
“Amit Shah asked us to concentrate on each and every booth area and build up contact with individual voters. This, he said, should not be confined to mere instructions from the top of the hierarchy. People responsible for building up the organization in every ‘mandal’(zone) and district have to hit the streets and prepare comprehensive plans immediately,” said a top BJP leader quoting Shah.
Since chief minister Mamata Banerjee makes it a point to highlight the achievements of the Trinamool government at every government and party function, Shah has asked state BJP leaders to focus on Central projects and schemes, right from ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ to ‘Nirmal Ganga.’
“He embarked on this tour to reach out to people at the grassroots, cutting across caste and creed. He interacted with people at the booth-level to read their mind and assure them that the BJP has the potential to rise in Bengal,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha who accompanied Shah throughout the latter’s stay.
“We are happy that he took on the Trinamool head on, countering Mamata Banerjee’s claims on administrative success with hard statistics. This snubbed our detractors who keep saying that there is a ‘secret understanding’ between the BJP and Trinamool. He told people to file questions under the Right to Information Act if they had doubts about any data furnished by Banerjee,” said Sinha.
Shah, it is learnt, entrusted Dilip Ghosh to monitor the new plan of action. After going through reports on infighting in the Trinamool in several districts, he also Ghosh and other leaders to keep the door open for Trinamool workers and district leaders who were not happy with their party. “However, this does not mean that Trinamool MPs and MLAs facing probe in the Narada or Saradha scams can switch over to the BJP to escape prosecution. Let there be no confusion,” said Sinha.