The BJP will finalise its West Bengal poll strategy following Home Minister Amit Shah's two-day visit of the state that started on Wednesday night. Bengal is scheduled to go for elections in April-May, 2021.
During this visit which will end on Friday, Shah will be speaking to party organisers and even supporters to get a better idea of what is required. This includes policy matters and organisational changes.
On Thursday, he along with the party’s state unit president Dilip Ghosh had lunch at the residence of Bibhishan Hansda, at Chaturhidi village in Bankura district in the south-western part of the state.
During this visit, his focus is mostly on the districts of Howrah, Hooghly, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Jhargram, Purulia and Bankura in the southern and southwestern parts of the state. The BJP did fairly well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Home Minister Amit Shah will take stock of the organisational nitty-gritties, interact with district and state-level leaders and visit two homes in the rural belt, apart from a visit to Kolkata. He will virtually address party workers and interact with intellectuals aligning with the party to get their opinion on policy matters.
“Among strategy issues is whether we will go for hard-line Hindutva or a take a soft approach towards Hindutva. The argument for the latter is that hard-line Hindutva would alienate Muslims who too are reportedly angry with various aspects of Mamata Banerjee regime, especially corruption and arrogance of local leaders,” said a BJP Lok Sabha MP who did not want to be identified.
Shah also wants to fix the issue of a tussle within the organisation over accommodating newcomers from other parties in the leadership. One of the BJP’s prime targets is to get leaders from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Left parties to defect and join BJP.
“The party’s central leadership is willing to offer prominent positions to these newcomers to encourage defection, especially from the TMC, but a section of the state leadership has not been comfortable with these initiatives,” said a BJP state unit member.
As a result of that tussle, Subrata Chattopadhyay, the party’s general secretary (organisation) –who holds the key to organisational affairs – was recently removed following allegations that he was trying to control all organisational decisions at the district level, while enjoying the full backing of Dilip Ghosh, in an apparent bid to maintain ‘organisational purity’.
Over the recent months, the clout of Dilip Ghosh, a former pracharak, or whole-timer, of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has reduced and that of Mukul Roy, Mamata Banerjee’s one-time right-hand-man who joined the BJP in 2017, has increased.
Shah is also trying to gauge public sentiment about the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The party had promised to legalise all illegal entries of Hindus from Bangladesh but the CAA is yet to be implemented because the Centre is going slow on framing the rules considering implications in other states.