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BJP to bank on PM Modi’s development plank to fight TMC in Bengal polls

Home / India News / BJP to bank on PM Modi’s development plank to fight TMC in Bengal polls

To take on the Mamata Banerjee government in the state assembly polls next year, the BJP will rely on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “development agenda” as a poll plank, said persons aware of the details. Even though the party has started a concerted campaign to highlight what it alleges is the “misrule” of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government; the party has opted to proceed with PM Modi as the face of the election. This is not the first time that the BJP has refrained from naming the chief ministerial candidate; though in states where it seeks re-election it usually prefers leading with the incumbent as it did in Madhya Pradesh with Shivraj Singh Chouhan and in Haryana with Manohar Lal Khattar. A senior party functionary in the state said, it is too soon to suggest a CM candidate and the party will leave it to the leadership in Delhi to take a call on the issue. “The focus right now is the misrule and the governance failures of the TMC. Party cadres have been instructed to create awareness across the state about the benefits they will stand to gain if the BJP forms government. A scheme like Ayushman Bharat that has changed the healthcare delivery is not allowed in Bengal, there is widespread violence and lack of development,” the functionary said. While the BJP is resting its hopes on PM Modi’s popularity with the masses to help them wade through the choppy waters of electioneering in the state where the party has traditionally found little support, there are concerns about the cohesion in the party unit itself. Differences between state unit leaders have surfaced and the national leadership has had to intervene more than once. More recently, statements made by state in charge Kailash Vijayvargiya that the state unit will contest under the leadership of Modi were perceived as a snub to former governor of Meghalaya Tathagata Roy, who has expressed his desire to re-join the party as a full-time worker. “There are many claimants to the CM’s post and there are differences between the party unit chief Dilip Ghosh and some of the team members. The central leadership has had to step in to bury differences,” said the functionary quoted above. Roy, who had earlier served as the governor of Tripura and the party president of the West Bengal unit, has been vocal about joining the party full time after his gubernatorial term came to an end this month. He however said that while he is eager to serve the party in the state of West Bengal he leaves it to the party high command to choose the role in which he can contribute. “It is not for me to decide what role I should have in the party since I am just about to enter the party. It is for the party leadership, the president and the observers to decide. But what I have made plain is that I am prepared to shoulder any responsibility that the party gives me. I will turn 75 next month and if the party holds that I am too old for any kind of active post so be it. If the party decides that I am physically fit then also so be it. Meanwhile, there is enough scope for me to work in the party in different capacities,” Roy said. He also brushed aside claims that differences have surfaced in the state unit ever since he expressed his intention to join the party. “There is no party in the country which is free from any kind of internal differences and different parties manage them in different ways. For instance, the communists keep it under wraps and you get to know it only when the party splits. The Congress handles it by allowing everyone to say anything at the public forum. You find five different people saying five different things in the media. The Trinamool Congress handles it by throwing bombs at each other. As opposed to that we have internal dissensions too but we handle them well by arguing among ourselves, by talking it through and ultimately by the Central leadership. What we do is the most civilised way of handling internal dissensions,” he said. Roy and other state leaders said not announcing a CM candidate will have no adverse impact on the party’s performance at the polls to pick a new 249-member assembly Abhay Deshpande, a political commentator, said not naming a CM candidate in states where the party is not seeking re-election is a strategy.“They have been strategically consistent in not naming a chief ministerial candidate in states where they are not seeking re-election to avoid infighting in the party and also to rule out trouble with allies. For instance, in 2004 they never projected Devendra Fadnavis as a CM in Maharashtra but when they sought re-election, Fadnavis was the face of the party,” he said.

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