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BJP’s WB ‘Poll’ Play List Covers Mamata Govt’s All Major Hits: CAA, Sandeshkhali, Graft Charges & Hindus – News18


Implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), allegations of sexual assault and forcible land grab in Sandeshkhali, corruption charges, including the recruitment and ration scam, against the Mamata Banerjee government and overall Hindu consolidation – the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) list for 38 of the 42 seats in West Bengal takes all of it into consideration.

It also reflects the BJP’s change in strategy. Some sitting MPs, including a central minister, have been fielded from different seats, at least three turncoats got candidature and the idea of fielding Muslim candidates in seats that have Muslim majority has been shunted. The BJP, in the assembly election in 2021 in Bengal, had fielded at least seven Muslim candidates, primarily in Malda and Murshidabad, in contrast to no Muslim candidate in 2019.

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This election season, the BJP has so far fielded only one Muslim candidate in Kerala, keeping the demography and related issues in mind.

MUSLIM FACTOR VS HINDU CONSOLIDATION

West Bengal’s demography and its location play a crucial role in the elections. The state has at least 28-30% Muslim population. Seven districts are located near two constituencies that have over 60% Muslim population, along with constituencies that have over 35-40% of Muslim vote share, which will be seen as a deciding factor in the elections.

Of the 38 Lok Sabha seats, four seats in Murshidabad and Malda districts, with Muslim population over 50-60% in some areas, did not get a candidate from the community on the BJP’s list. Candidates for the remaining four seats, which are still to be announced, are unlikely to be Muslim too. The decision shows that the BJP will be going on the Hindutva plank in Bengal.

The BJP is focused on Hindu consolidation by using CAA, and is trying to ensure that the SC, ST and Dalit Hindu or refugee Hindu votes do not split. Senior leaders of the party and its affiliated organisations have gone through all complex calculations of Bengal’s voter base and vote shares of different castes in different regions.

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The message is loud and clear. If Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress (TMC) are going all out to save their Muslim vote bank, the BJP will take the electoral-political position needed to consolidate all Hindu votes in the region.

According to a senior leader in Bengal BJP, the party has also considered the voting pattern of Muslims in the region vis-à-vis the voting pattern of Hindus. Banerjee is confident of her Muslim vote bank as she knows that Muslims traditionally opt for block voting, while Hindu votes, especially in a state like Bengal, can never be consolidated. So the candidates need to be decided based on issues and strategies need to be designed based on the demography, he said.

‘SLOW AND STRATEGIC’

Both the TMC and its main Opposition BJP have announced their lists for the battle of Bengal.

Even as the list of TMC candidates was announced by party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, in the presence of state’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, from the party’s public meeting in Kolkata with much pomp and show almost a fortnight ago, the BJP has been “slow and strategic” in announcing names, said senior BJP leaders.

The BJP, which expects to cross last Lok Sabha election’s tally, has conducted multiple ground surveys. The decision to notify the CAA, spearheading a movement around the allegations of sexual assault and land grab in Sandeshkhali and adjacent areas, and building a momentum around corruption charges against Banerjee’s government are reflections of those surveys.

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Candidates such as Rekha Patra, the woman who first registered complaint of sexual assault and became the face of the women’s movement in Sandeshkhali, or retired justice Abhijit Ganguly, who made observations against the TMC in connection with the recruitment scam, are non-political. “But the party picked them to keep the issues alive. These are the faces of all those movements,” said another senior central BJP leader.

“We have our old guards on the list too. In some places, some sitting candidates were changed as our surveys suggested so,” he added.



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