Bengal BJP enters poll mode, Amit Shah to kick-start virtual meetings on June 8
Monday’s announcements came barely four days after the party released a 9-point charge-sheet against Mamata Banerjee’s nine-year rule and called for toppling the state government in 2021.Updated: Jun 01, 2020 22:22 IST
The West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has entered poll mode with about a year to go for the Assembly elections, announcing a series of ‘virtual meetings’, the first of which will be addressed by union home minister Amit Shah on June 8. The party also named its new state executive that would lead the party to the elections.
Monday’s announcements came barely four days after the party released a 9-point charge-sheet against Mamata Banerjee’s nine-year rule and called for toppling the state government in 2021. That day, they also launched a campaign branded as ‘Aar Noi Mamata’, which literally means ‘no more Mamata’.
“In these virtual meetings, there will be a dais, with two-three speakers. 1,000 party workers would be able to directly participate and ask questions. Another 1,000 would be able to watch the proceedings using a link,” BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh said.
Amit Shah will be the main speaker in the first such meeting, scheduled at 11 am on June 8. This event is slated to be aired live on social media. There will be four other such meetings, to be addressed by other national and state-level leaders.
Ghosh said that they had to make this move because political meetings had come to a halt due to the lockdown and social distancing norms. While party workers will be the attendees at such events, the proceedings would later be shared on social media.
“We will highlight the achievements of the Modi government in the past one year and also during this unprecedented crisis over coronavirus. Besides, the Mamata Banerjee government’s failures in dealing with the pandemic, the ration scam, the apathy towards migrant workers, and the lack of preparation in handling the post-cyclone situation would also be highlighted,” Ghosh said.
TMC secretary-general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee said that the party was not going to indulge in politics at this hour, as it was busy with relief work. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said a few days ago, “We’ll fight the political battle later.” BJP, however, has accused the government of playing politics by disallowing BJP leaders from carrying out relief work.
BJP’s new state leadership, comprising 12 vice-presidents, 5 general secretaries, and 10 secretaries has several of those who switched over from the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left, which has been a weaker opponent of TMC than the BJP.
Former TMC MP-cum-youth wing chief Saumitra Khan, who switched over to BJP in January 2019 and got elected to the Lok Sabha, has become BJP’s new youth wing chief.
Former Left MLA Mahfuza Khatun, who joined BJP in 2018, has been made one of the vice-presidents, along with Arjun Singh, a former four-time TMC MLA-turned BJP MP. Former three-time Left MLA-turned-BJP MP Khagen Murmu has been made head of the Scheduled Tribes morcha of the party. Former TMC-MLA Sabyasachi Dutta has been made a secretary.
BJP emerged as TMC’s principal opponent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, bagging 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, against 22 won by TMC. In the 2016 Assembly elections, TMC won 211 of the state’s 294 seats, while BJP won only 3. The rest were won by the Left-Congress informal alliance.
Political analysts said that the timing of the launch of the campaign was wrong. Psephologist Biswanath Chakraborty said, “Open indulgence in general political activities at this hour may backfire and turn some people’s sympathy towards Mamata Banerjee.”
Political scientist Amal Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College, called BJP’s move unfortunate. “They should have waited for the situation to improve and should have focussed on dealing with the people’s distress. This may boomerang,” he said.