NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying out a nuanced strategy to consolidate the Hindu vote base in West Bengal. According to sources, the BJP’s poll strategy for Bengal as well as the bordering states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam is designed to build on its core vote base without playing the hard Hindutva card.
The saffron party asked NDA allies in Bihar not to field candidates from the minority community. The BJP is learnt to have mounted pressure on Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) to deny incumbent MP Mehboob Ali Kaiser a renomination from Khagaria, though the Janata Dal (United) has managed to field a lone Muslim candidate from Kishanganj constituency.
“The trade-off for the BJP, which conceded five constituencies of its sitting MPs, besides contesting only 17 seats in Bihar, was to gain a say in candidate selection of allies in tune with the larger strategy of the NDA. The BJP got the allies on board to support the party’s bid for Hindu vote base consolidation in Bengal. Candidate selection in Bihar has sent a strong message to West Bengal,” said a senior BJP functionary.
The JD(U) and LJP were persuaded to play the OBC/Dalit card to trigger counter polarisation against minority candidates of the grand alliance.
The BJP is also buoyed by the defection of a large number of Left and Congress cadre in West Bengal.
“Enemy’s enemy is a friend is working well, with anti-Mamata Banerjee forces throwing their weight behind the BJP. The extent of Left workers joining the BJP has surprised top leaders. The BJP’s poll plank to counter excessive minority appeasement by Mamata is gaining currency,” added the BJP functionary.
BJP chief Amit Shah has time and again asserted that the party will win not less than 23 out of 42 LS seats in West Bengal.
“The eastern approach (West Bengal, Odisha and the Northeast) would compensate any climbdown from peak positions in the party’s traditional strongholds,” said another senior BJP functionary.
Seven seats for Congress in Jharkhand
The mahagathbandhan in Jharkhand on Sunday announced the seat-sharing deal with the Congress getting to contest from seven out of the state’s 14 Lok Sabha seats. The JMM got 4 seats and the JVM two seats; the RJD will contest from a solitary seat.
CPI fields Kanhaiya
After it was left out of the opposition alliance in Bihar, the CPI on Sunday announced the candidature of ex-JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai.