The BJP West Bengal state executive is scheduled to hold a two-day brainstorming session in Burdhaman on 1-2 May to work out the party’s game plan for next year’s Panchayat elections in the state.
Sources told The Statesman that the party central leadership in tandem with the state unit would leave no stone unturned to cash in on the gains made in West Bengal in recent months, especially in the wake of the party’s ‘impressive’ showing in the Kanthi Dakshin (Contai South) Assembly seat, where it came second, capturing 31 per cent vote share and relegating the Left to the third spot.
Ahead of the state executive meeting, BJP president Amit Shah is slated to camp in Siliguri in north Bengal for three days beginning 25 April. He is expected to engage with the state and local leadership with the aim of mobilising grassroots support for the party ahead of the Panchayat polls.
The BJP, which has never been a political force of any consequence in West Bengal, has been planning to take on Trinamul Congress led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Left Front on their home turf. But that will be easier said than done, given the party’s minimal presence in the state.
The BJP was in the eye of a political storm early this year when its general secretary Jalpaiguri Mahila Morcha Juhi Chowdhury was accused of hobnobbing with child traffickers. The Central leadership has since blamed the incident on poor screening of persons and instructed its state unit to thoroughly screen persons before they are taken on board.
Unfazed by the incident, the BJP is set to embark on a mass mobilisation movement across the state in order to garner support for the party. The party has planned a door-to-door campaign. It is also working out a UP-like strategy aimed at booth-level penetration. The party is also likely to join the chorus for a separate Gorkhaland, a demand of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a BJP ally.
Unlike the Trinamool Congress and Left Front, the BJP is at a disadvantage owing to the absence of grassroots level network across the state. The party is hoping to fan out to various constituencies. The coming state executive is likely to work out a plan towards that goal. The central leadership is also keen to maintain the momentum in a build-up to the Panchayat polls. After the 25 April visit to the state, Amit Shah is slated to tour West Bengal on two more occasions in the span of the next three months.