With the curtains coming down on Bihar polls, and without waiting for the results on November 8, the BJP has begun preparations for the Bengal Assembly election scheduled for mid-2016. The party’s central leaders, on Thursday, asked the state BJP president, general secretaries and some other senior leaders to reach Delhi immediately to take stock of ground realities and discuss campaign preparations.
Exit polls in Bihar have predicted a close fight between the BJP-led NDA and the Lalu-Nitish-Congress grand alliance (GA), with the incumbent coalition having an edge. Political analysts in Kolkata pointed out that even if the BJP fails to form the government in Bihar, it will pull out all the stops for the Bengal polls if it gets close to 110 seats in Bihar.
Only if the BJP languishes at the 60-70 seats level can Mamata Banerjee expect the party to lose steam and be a ‘no-threat’ for her Trinamool Congress in Bengal.
“The countdown is on. We will meet our state unit leaders on Friday,” Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP national secretary in charge of Bihar, told HT just after the exit poll results for Bihar were out.
On Monday, BJP national general secretary (organisation) Shivprakash, Bengal observer and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national secretaries Sidharth Nath Singh and Suresh Pujari will go into a huddle with the state unit leaders to further brush up the strategy for Bengal.
The party has already done a gradation of all the 294 constituencies. A report has also been sent to party president Amit Shah indicating the seats where the party has positive chances.
Shah is to address a rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata on November 30.
“The BJP will have an edge in case of a hung verdict too. But anything close to 110 seats in Bihar will boost the BJP in Bengal. It may emerge as a worry for Mamata because the CBI may also get tough with Trinamool leaders and there may be very tight security with central forces during the Bengal election.
However, if the BJP gets stuck between 60 to 70 seats and Nitish becomes chief minister again, Mamata will have a good reason to smile, especially Modi’s dependence on her may increase,” political analyst Shibaji Pratim Basu said.
Trinamool Congress vicepresident and panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee told HT, “Nitish Kumar will win and it will make us very happy in Bengal. The BJP has no chance here.”
A victory for Nitish may also rekindle Mamata’s dream of a secular third front at the national level. The BJP had a sudden jump in fortune in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when its vote share in Bengal jumped to 16.8% from 6% in 2009, but the figure has slumped in poll after poll since then.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) state committee said on Thursday that it has information that Amit Shah is planning to hold a rath yatra in Bengal. “We will resist this ploy to polarise the state,” it declared.