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Bengal BJP’s hunt for land for offices hitting roadblocks in districts

BJP has divided Bengal into 37 organisational districts. Though the party has managed to buy land in some districts, construction hasn’t started in most places. Elsewhere, the picture is not even as bright.

cities Updated: Jun 27, 2018 17:02 IST
During his visit to Bengal in 2017, BJP president Amit Shah asked state leaders to buy land in every district and set up new offices. (HT File Photo)

In the hill district of Darjeeling that has given BJP two Lok Sabha MPs in a row and is now represented by Union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation S S Ahluwalia, the party doesn’t have its own office, a car or even a computer.

“We don’t have minimum logistical support. We operate from the home of our district general secretary. We travel in taxi,” rues Manoj Dewan, BJP Darjeeling district president.

Darjeeling is not an exception. BJP is struggling to match its rivals when it comes to logistics and infrastructure.

During his visit to Bengal in April 2017, party president Amit Shah instructed state leaders to purchase land and property for setting up new ‘karyalayas’ (offices) in every district.

Read: Amit Shah’s strategy: BJP treating Bengal rural polls as ‘quarter-final match’ before 2021 assembly election

BJP has divided Kolkata and Bengal’s 22 districts into 37 organisational districts. Though the party has managed to buy land in some districts, construction hasn’t started in most places. Elsewhere, the picture is not even as bright.

Shah arrived in Bengal on Wednesday to take stock of the state organisation.

The Asansol Lok Sabha seat in West Burdwan district went to BJP for the first time in 2014. It is represented by Union minister of state for heavy industries Babul Supriyo, the only other BJP MP from Bengal. The party, however, is still looking for land for a well-equipped office there.

“We have inspected some land but final decision is yet to be taken. We have a computer in our old office in Andal but the infrastructure is inadequate,” admits Lakshman Ghorai, BJP Asansol district president.

Read: Trinamool takes a swipe at Amit Shah over BJP workers who died in Purulia, questions why he won’t visit their homes

In north Bengal, BJP leaders in Alipurduar and North Dinajpur feel unlucky. “We are still working from our small, old office. There is no computer and wireless internet. We have plans but funds crunch poses problems,” says Nirmal Dam, BJP North Dinajpur district president.

In the adjacent district of South Dinajpur, a 15,841 square feet land, located not far from the offices of the district magistrate and superintendent of police, has been purchased. “We don’t have enough space, furniture or even toilets in the old office,” says district president Shubhendu Sarkar.

In Murshidabad South, Nadia North and Nadia South organisational districts, the party has purchased land but in Murshidabad North, which was formed by BJP 11 months ago, hunt for a plot is still on.

Read: Amit Shah in Kolkata:150 college teachers, 6 ex-VCs likely to attend meet

In Howrah town, attempts to buy land is allegedly being scuttled by Trinamool Congress workers. “Prospective sellers are either being threatened or forced to quote figures that no party can afford,” says Surajit Saha, BJP Howrah town district president.

At Tamluk, BJP district president Pradeep Das, a former land reforms officer with the state government, is tackling a problem he is familiar with.

“We purchased land by a national highway and applied for conversion of its character. Our application has not been processed yet although similar pleas filed much later have been taken up by Haldia Development Authority (HDA) headed by Trinamool MP Suvendu Adhikari. We are planning to move court,” said Das.

The BJP leadership has also been planning to shift the Bengal state headquarters from Muralidhar Sen Lane in central Kolkata. “We have inspected some locations but no decision has been taken yet. We will take some offices on rent for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” says BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.

First Published: Jun 27, 2018 17:02 IST