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BJP gears up for upcoming West Bengal Assembly by-polls

Friday, 22 August 2014 - 10:11am IST | Place: Kolkata | Agency: PTI

After making its presence felt in the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, the BJP is gearing up to strengthen party organisations ahead of the forthcoming Assembly by-elections next month and municipal polls later this year.

State BJP chief Rahul Sinha said that the party was now concentrating on the by-elections to Basirhat South and Chowringhee Assembly seats.

BJP had got a lead of 30,000 votes in Basirhat South Assembly segment in the Lok Sabha poll.

"West Bengal is now one of the most important states for us to increase our organisation and strength with an eye on the 2016 Assembly polls. Our party president himself is keeping track of Bengal on a regular basis," BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told PTI.

"We have taken several steps from increasing our cadre mobilisation to reaching out to the masses with our policies," Naqvi said.

Trinamool Congress, however, claimed that it would win the Basirhat South and Chowringhee seats, saying Lok Sabha and Assembly polls were different ball games and the "so called Modi-wave is on the wane".

"We will win both the seats as Modi wave is on the wane," TMC MP Sultan Ahmed said.

Referring to the party's growth in the state, Sinha said, "Modi wave is there. The growing interest about BJP among the masses and our ability to put up an alternative to the misrule of the TMC is one of the main reasons behind our phenomenal rise in the state."

The BJP, which secured 18% vote share in the state in the last Lok Sabha polls and bagged two seats - Asansol and Darjeeling - is trying to change the political equations in the state, which till recently was polarised between Left and Trinamool Congress.

BJP's National secretary Siddharth Nath Singh, one of the main architects behind the party's good showing in the state, said that apart from inducting leaders and workers from different parties, the BJP is also concentrating on increasing its base in trade unions, students and youth wings. 

Asked if the party's leadership in the state could match the charisma of Mamata Banerjee, Naqvi said, "We are not an individual based party. We are a cadre based party, which stresses on strengthening the organisation from grass root to the top. And we believe that our state leadership is doing well."

The state BJP president said in the last two months more than 1.5 lakhs people including some political leaders from different parties besides personalities from the field of sports, films and culture had joined the party, once considered as a backbencher in state politics.

BJP president Amit Shah's visit to the state to attend the party state committee meeting and address a public meeting in Kolkata is expected to give a fillip to party workers.

Anxious not to experience a situation which TMC faced in which old and new members of the party fought bitterly, the BJP is conducting a screening process before inducting new members to keep at bay tainted elements and anti-socials.

Sinha said that those who are joining the party now are being given primary membership and after examining their organisational calibre, they would be assigned tasks accordingly.

Admitting that some people from different political parties have joined BJP, senior Congress leader Manas Bhuniya described it as a "temporary phase".

He said BJP has "played communal card" but this phenomenon would die down before 2016 Assembly poll. "Modi's achhe din slogan will lose its sheen across the country", he said.

Veteran CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharya described BJP's growth in the state as a matter of "grave concern" because the growth of BJP meant implementation of the "communal agenda of RSS which needs to be checked at any cost.

He conceded that a section of Left activists had switched to the BJP, but said that it was mainly due to BJP capturing power at the Centre which has sent out a message that only BJP could save them from the TMC onslaught in the state. 




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