KOLKATA: National issues may dominate the mid-year rural Bengal polls for the first time with the BJP set to play up Hindutva and the ruling Trinamool Congress slated to attack the Modi regime over demonetisation and the goods and services tax.
Although local issues have traditionally dominated the rural polls, sources said the BJP was planning to make inroads into regions where Sangh Parivar constituents, VHP and RSS, have achieved substantial growth by organising camps and mobilising local Hindu youths -- notably the Sundarbans and the tribal areas of north Bengal.
BJP president Amit Shah has asked the state leadership to form booth-level committees of three or four dedicated workers each to conduct door-to-door campaigns. The Bengal panchayat polls are being seen as a litmus test for the BJP’s growth in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and 2021 Assembly elections.
Sources in the Trinamool Congress said party chief Mamata Banerjee had asked district and block presidents to carry the message of TMC’s continuing protest against demonetisation and GST and the associated problems to the rural heartland ahead of the elections.
With the CPM and the Congress unlikely to formulate a pre-poll alliance, the fight is between the TMC and the rapidly emerging opposition BJP, with any split in votes likely to benefit the ruling party.