Riding high on the exit poll predictions of a landslide victory for the BJP-led NDA alliance, West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh expressed confidence that his party would win more than 23 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
He has his reasons behind the prediction. Ghosh, 54, told thestatesman.com over phone from Kolkata that workers of the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Left parties and the Congress voted for the BJP at many places.
“Not only the Left, the Congress and TMC cadres, too, have voted for us. Otherwise why am I saying that we will get 23-plus seats?” Ghosh said.
Claiming that those who “once sided with the TMC are with us”, Ghosh said the people of Bengal wanted a “major parivartan (change)”.
“There is no law and order in Bengal, no democracy, no security, leave aside lack of jobs, and no education in schools and colleges. People want a major parivartan. Those who once sided with TMC are now with us. Thus there will be a major change,” asserted Ghosh, who is an MLA from Kharagpur town.
The BJP Bengal chief also said his party was sure of forming the next state government in West Bengal, where Assembly elections are due in 2021.
At the same time, Ghosh also claimed that the TMC government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might not last the next two years. When asked to explain, he said the TMC was crumbling from within.
“They are only continuing for their selfish interests. They are afraid of the police and cases. Once the (Lok Sabha) results are out, Mamata government will become weak and they will leave,” Ghosh claimed.
Commenting on the violence that singed the state in each of the seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections, Ghosh harked back to the political history of the state, blaming it on the Communists before accusing the TMC.
“Communists started violence in West Bengal. It is not a new thing. And they (the TMC) didn’t let Panchayat elections to be held properly and prevented filing of nominations. Around 100 people have been killed in the violence since then. We lost 44 of our workers,” he said, adding that there had been comparatively less violence in Lok Sabha elections because of the presence of central forces.
Accusing the TMC of “depending on criminals”, Ghosh said the ruling party workers tried to intimidate the voters by spreading fear.
“Yet, there has been over 80 per cent polling,” he pointed out. Barring the last phase, Bengal consistently recorded over 80 per cent polling in all phases.
One of the lowest points during the elections in West Bengal was the destruction of a bust of 19th century Bengali renaissance-era icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at the Vidyasagar College in Kolkata. The TMC had alleged that “outsiders” belonging to the BJP were responsible for the vandalism.
Commenting on the incident, the Bengal BJP chief said his party had no hand in the headline-grabbing incident which happened when party president Amit Shah’s roadshow was passing through Kolkata’s College Street. He accused the TMC of carrying out a “pre-planned operation to defame Bengal”.
“We were on the street. There were two three gates, locked – no chance of making an entry. They were already inside and threw stones on us. How can we break the idol inside barricades? TMC has not been able to give any proof. This is a game plan; a drama of the TMC. There is a video which shows that they broke the idol inside and threw the pieces outside,” he said, adding that the people didn’t believe in any of their “games”.
Ghosh also made it clear that National Register for Citizens (NRC) would be implemented in West Bengal and that the people would accept it because as long as “unwanted people stay, the state will not develop”.
“We believe that people of Bengal will accept the NRC implementation because the maximum infiltration has been in this state. Over 1 crore Bangladeshi Muslims are here. This is creating a pressure on the economy; they are changing the politics and the demography. The border along Bengal is unsafe and they are carrying out illegal activities,” he said without mincing words.
“They have a hand in law and order problem. These unwanted people, if they stay, will not let Bengal develop. Thus NRC should be implemented here first. We will do it. We will give citizenship to Hindus who have come. The bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha and will now be passed in Rajya Sabha,” Ghosh added.
The BJP, Ghosh said, worked tirelessly in West Bengal in the last three years. Admitting that his party didn’t have an organisation in Bengal earlier, Ghosh said the BJP trained its workers and strengthened the cadre base, adding that agitations were held over public grievances against the government.
“We now have committees at the booth level in every village and mandal. We saw the outcome in the panchayat polls. Wherever there has been good polling, we have won,” Ghosh stated, also giving credit to the contribution of national leaders of the party.
Ghosh, BJP’s candidate from Medinipur, contested the Lok Sabha elections for the first time.
Brushing aside any challenge from TMC candidate Manas Bhuniyan, Ghosh said his party ended the mafia raj in Medinipur and, therefore, people had voted for his party.
“We are winning from Medinipur. We have ended mafia raj there. The people here are looking for a change,” he said.
Bhuniya, a former Congress leader, contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Ghatal but lost to TMC’s Deepak Adhikari. He quit the Congress after winning an Assembly segment in 2016 and joined the TMC the same year. In 2017, Bhuniya was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
“Why will the people accept him?” Ghosh asked while underlining Bhuniya’s election history.
“Sitting MP Sandhya Rai was not given ticket for fear of losing. The people of Medinipur have voted for us and we are winning,” he asserted.
The results of the Lok Sabha elections will be announced on 23 May.