Why BJP pit youth leader Priyanka Tibrewal against CM Mamata in Bhawanipore?
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to field a youth leader Priyanka Tibrewal, who lost at least two elections, against TMC chief Mamata Banerjee from Bhawanipore constituency in the upcoming by-poll may have raised some eyebrows, but senior BJP leaders said that a lot of thought has gone into it before the announcement was made.
Tibrewal is the vice-president of the BJP’s youth wing in the state and an advocate, who played a pivotal role in the BJP’s legal battle in the Calcutta high court on post poll violence, which ultimately led a five-judge bench to order for a CBI probe.
“Only a woman candidate would be able to mount a direct attack against another woman candidate. A male candidate would have to think twice before making a public statement against a woman candidate. Mamata Banerjee starts crying foul whenever she is on the back foot and plays the woman-victim card. We had to take a safeguard against this,” said a senior BJP leader.
A second BJP leader said that as Tibrewal has been in the forefront of the legal battle related to post-poll violence, projecting her from Bhawanipore against Mamata Banerjee would help to boost the morale of the party workers.
Tibrewal had earlier contested the civic polls in 2015, but lost. In the recently held assembly polls she was fielded from Entally seat in north Kolkata. This time too she lost to TMC’s lightweight leader Swarna Kamal Saha by more than 58,000 votes.
“We have pitted one defeated leader against another. Mamata Banerjee too was defeated four months back by BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari. As far as the question of fielding a youth leader is concerned, Tibrewal is a good fighter. In 1984 Mamata Banerjee had defeated Somnath Chatterjee. Before that who knew the name of Banerjee,” Dilip Ghosh, BJP’s state president told the media.
BJP leaders said that Rudranil Ghosh, the party’s candidate who lost from Bhawanipore in the recently held assembly polls, had also expressed interest to contest against Banerjee in the upcoming polls. He had lost to Sovandeb Chatterjee, a TMC veteran, by around 28,000 votes. But BJP leaders in Delhi chose Tibrewal.
“While on the one hand the woman-to-woman fight factor was there, another factor which could have played a role is the decision behind selecting Tibrewal is that a sizeable population of the electors in Bhawanipore are Sikhs and Gujratis,” said a BJP leader.
A BJP leader said that a section of leaders in the state had wanted that a Bengali face should be pitted from Bhawanipore so that the TMC may not play the ‘outsider’ card again this time. In the 2021 polls, the party had judiciously played the ‘outsider’ card in its favour. The final call was however taken by the BJP leadership in Delhi.
“The BJP’s unit in West Bengal had sent a list, comprising some names, to the party’s leadership in Delhi. The name of Rudranil Ghosh, who had contested from Bhawanipore in the recently held assembly election, was also there. The final call was made by the party’s top leaders,” said a BJP leader.
Banerjee, who filed her nomination later in the day, has to win the bypoll to become a member of the assembly in order to continue in the chair. She had taken oath on May 5 and must get elected within six months as per protocols – November 5.
“The people of Bhawanipore have already chosen their leader. Let the BJP bring all their central leaders and field any one in Bhawanipore. When the results are declared on May 3, they would lose by a record margin,” said Tapas Roy, veteran TMC leader and a party spokesperson.