Rising from the Sangh Parivar ranks, Dilip Ghosh, 55, has been on a roll. An RSS pracharak from West Bengal, he was RSS in-charge of Andaman and Nicobar Islands before he was appointed Bengal BJP general secretary.

He was elevated to the post of state BJP president in 2015. In the 2016 Assembly polls, Ghosh won from Kharagpur Sadar seat, a constituency held by the Congress since1982. The state has been witnessing a remarkable surge of the BJP under his stewardship.

The saffron party bagged 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections, with Ghosh himself clinching the Midnapore parliamentary constituency. The party now seems to have clearly emerged as a principal challenger to the ruling Trinamul in the run-up to the 2021 state Assembly polls.

In an interview with APARAJIT CHAKRABORTY, Ghosh spoke on a range of issues. Excerpts:

Q: Hardly anyone expected that the BJP would win 18 seats or secure a 40 per cent vote share in West Bengal in the recent Lok Sabha polls. How did this happen? What were the factors that led to this unprecedented success for your party?

A: We have been fighting in West Bengal for a long time. But party workers were not getting enough confidence due to leadership crisis in the state. Many of our party supporters were killed. They were falsely implicated in various criminal charges. Democracy was murdered for political interest, autocracy was ruling the state. The ruling party has been unleashing violence to gag the voice of common people. Corruption, unemployment and violence are the news headlines in Bengal now. The people have witnessed anarchy during the regimes of the Congress, Left Front and now Trinamul. All these factors have impacted the common people, who have got frustrated due to protracted misrule in the state.

Q: In less than two years, Bengal will go for Assembly polls. What will be your main election issues and why?

A: There are plenty of issues. Unemployment, corruption, violence, poverty in rural areas, poor health care system, politicisation of education system, law and order ~ everything has collapsed. Even Trinamul workers are being killed due to their infighting. The administration and police are being used as ruling party’s cadres. We want to bring back the golden days of Bengal. The BJP-ruled states are far more developed than Bengal, which is now lagging behind all other states. There is also strong leadership at the Centre. All these will be our major issues.

Q: Dont you think itll be a better idea if your party declares a CM candidate in the run-up to the Bengal polls?

A: We have many eligible candidates. The party is not run by one candidate like other parties. In Trinamul Congress, the party has no alternative except Mamata Banerjee. In Tripura, Biplab Deb’s name was announced as CM candidate after an unprecedented victory there. He was an unknown face before the election. Similarly, in UP, Yogi Adityanath’s name was announced as CM after the BJP secured a landslide victory there in the 2017 Assembly polls. Other parties have no alternative for CM or PM post except one or two candidates. We have many alternatives.

Q: If the Trinamul and the Congress forge an alliance, their vote percentage, going by their Lok Sabha numbers, will add up to a total of 49 per cent ~ 9 per cent more than the BJPs Lok Sabha figure. What then will be your partys gameplan?

A: Political alliance will not help Trinamul to gain victory this time. People have lost their trust and faith in the Trinamul, Congress and CPI-M. People of the state had earlier witnessed the misrule of the CPM and Congress. Now they have shifted their allegiance to the BJP. And once they have trusted the BJP they will not be disheartened. The Congress and CPM had an alliance in the 2016 Assembly polls in Bengal. So why did that alliance fail to defeat the Trinamul? It will not be possible to defeat the BJP even if they all, including Trinamul, Congress and CPM, forge an alliance before the Assembly polls.

Q: Addressing the Trinamuls martyrs rally in Kolkata on 21 July,Mamata Banerjee asked her partys leaders and workers to launch protests against alleged black money being siphoned off by the BJP. She also asked from where the BJP mobilises staggering funds for its mega election campaigns across the country. Your comments?

A: Who trusts her now? Earlier Mamata Banerjee said the BJP would be finished in 2019 general elections and it would get zero seats in Bengal. She also said ‘chowkidaar chor hai’. Now people, even her own party leaders, do not trust her. Is there any common man who has accused the BJP of possessing black money? It is Ms. Banerjee who accuses the BJP of having black money. She can say whatever she wants. In Bengal, there are many people who are now seeking refunds of ‘cut money’ that they had paid to Trinamul leaders to avail various central government schemes.

Q: Amartya Sen says that Jai Shri Ram slogan is not associated with Bengali culture but Maa Durga is and that Jai Shri Ram slogan is only used to beat up people.What is your response?

A: Three party cadres of the BJP were killed in Bengal for chanting “Jai Shri Ram”. We do not force others to chant “Jai Shri Ram”. People are spontaneously chanting this. The current generation, including the intellectual section of Bengal, has no connection with Amartya Sen. What contribution has he made for the betterment of Bengal? He is not aware of the ground realities as he stays abroad.

Q: But the point remains that in recent weeks many people in various parts of the country have been forced to chant Jai Shri Ram by mobs or thrashed.Many lynchings of minorities by cow vigilantes have also occurred. What do you make of such trends?

A: We do not encourage violence by chanting “Jai Shri Ram”. More than 150 people were killed in political violence in West Bengal in the last one year. Bengal is bleeding. The perpetrators were never brought to justice. Most of the lynchings had taken place in Bengal and the perpetrators fled because of the state government’s support. We did not make such trends.

Q: Its widely believed that a key reason for the BJPs sudden success in Bengal was that the cadres and supporters of the Left Front shifted to the BJP en masse. So, what, in your view, is the future of the Left parties in Bengal?

A: The Left Front supporters and workers have understood that only the BJP can defeat the Trinamul. Not only has the Left’s vote base shifted to the BJP, the Congress and Trinamul’s vote bases have also shifted to the BJP. It is not about the Left’s vote, it is about anti-incumbency vote that the BJP has now got.’