The Trinamul Congress’ resounding victory in the bypoll to three Assembly seats last week has certainly boosted its confidence in its ability to make the party’s organisational machinery fighting fit, but its top-notch strategists are gearing up for the “real fight” in the next Assembly poll against the “formidable” Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine.
Highly placed sources in the Trinamul told The Statesman today, the most important lesson learnt from the bypoll victory is that there is no room for complacency since the main adversary ~ the BJP ~ deployed leaders such as Mukul Roy, state president and MP Dilip Ghosh and state in charge Kailash Vijayvargiya. The main challenge will come from Modi, whose popularity has not diminished, and Union home minister Amit Shah.
“When Modi is on election campaign in Bengal and Shah puts his organisational skill at the service of the state unit, it would be a completely different ball game. The local BJP leaders are of no consequence compared to the two heavyweights,” the sources said. The Trinamul’s election strategy is now being formulated by Prashant Kishor, whose group was responsible for the victory of Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll.
He, along with party MP Abhishek Banerjee, are overseeing the process in the Trinamul. Sources close to the two said the Trinamul is well aware why the BJP is setting so much store on victory in the next West Bengal Assembly poll. “If the BJP can capture power in West Bengal and retain UP in the next Assembly elections, then the party will be in the driving seat for the Lok Sabha poll in 2024.
This is why the party is desperately fine tuning its Bengal strategy,” the sources said. For obvious reasons, the sources said, neither Modi nor Shah campaigned for their party in the bypoll. But, the two won’t spare any pains in the coming Assembly poll to take on the Trinamul with all the forces at their disposal.
“For this reason we are reaching out to our activists at the booth level. We are also trying to make sure that the party’s image is not tarnished through any incidence of violence. We know we can’t always control party activists and supporters at the lowest level who may get carried away by local factors and take to violence. But, our clear instruction is not to indulge in it,” the sources said. Already, the ‘Didi ke bolo’ campaign, which is the brainchild of Kishor, has started yielding results by way of reaching out to the people at the grass roots.
“When the programme started about three months ago, we were told it was a kneejerk reaction to the BJP’s stunning victory in the last LS elections. But, the aim is to convert party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s popularity and the achievements of her government into electoral gain,” Kishor is learnt to have told the party leadership. Since August, when the ‘Didi ke bolo’ campaign was launched, Trinamul leaders at different levels, including MLAs and MPs have visited 6,000 villages which means they spent 6,000 nights with the common people. “This is a major success of the outreach programme,” the sources added.