Development, Not Hindutva, Bengal BJP's Campaign Mantra

The Bengal BJP hopes to achieve its self-imposed target “Mission 2016” in the forthcoming Assembly elections on a development plank, instead of sticking to its Hindutva line.

Published: 11th September 2015 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2015 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

KOLKATA:The Bengal BJP hopes to achieve its self-imposed target “Mission 2016” in the forthcoming Assembly elections on a development plank, instead of sticking to its Hindutva line.

Party leaders from across the country spoke freely and exchanged campaign strategy ideas on how to achieve the best results in the Assembly polls at the closed-door brainstorming session that ended at a luxury resort in Raichak on Thursday.

The session was convened after state president Rahul Sinha received a phonecall from party national chief Amit Shah asking him him to arrange a meeting in which the capaign’s agenda could be discussed.

After hearing out all the party leaders, including newcomers such as Rupa Ganguly and Locket Chatterjee, Jaiprakash Majumdar, singer-turned-minister Babul Supriyo and veteran BJP MP S S Ahluwalia, the party has chalked out a draft campaign strategy for the polls.

Having realized that the Hindutva plank will not cut ice with the highly polarised and politically conscious voters of the state, 29 per cent of whom belong to the Muslim community, the saffron party has decided to highlight the development it has brought about under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the Mamata Banerjee-led ruling TMC.

If the BJP campaigned in the lines of “Hindutva” Muslims voters are likely to be pushed towards Mamata and the party might reap only some marginal gains in the border districts with Bangladesh. But if the Muslim votes are divided then the saffron party stands to gain in several constituencies. Out of the total of 294 Assembly constituencies in Bengal, Muslim voters are a deciding factor in 140 seats and a minor tilt will be the determining factor to decide poll outcome.

A Muslim BJP leader who earlier was a top CPM functionary pointed out that 17 percent of the then total of 27 percent Muslim voters moved away from the Left Front during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the TMC-Congress combine managed to win 26 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats. In fact, the state BJP’s minority wing over the last two years has witnessed a growth of 50 percent and in many districts like Birbhum, considered to be a TMC stronghold, a large number of Muslims have been making a beeline for the saffron party.

As such, the party is not willing to pay much heed to state RSS leaders and wants to integrate Muslims into the main stream and  make the community a part of the development programme as a majority of the Bengali speaking Muslims are against Islamic fundamentalists.

With no big industry coming to Bengal and many existing ones shifting out triggering unemployment, the BJP has realised that harping on economic issues and the development the party can offer will be its best bet to capture the the imagination of the people.

And hence, the party has decided put matters such as “Hindutva”, smuggling of cows to Bangladesh and the rise of Muslim population in the state to rest.

“Prime Minister’s pro-people schemes like the Jan Dhan Yojana, Beti bachao, beti padao and many others will be our main issues and we will take them to the grass roots among the voters. Our campaign will be positive and we will highlight the failures of the TMC government. We will provide a concrete alternative for Bengal’s economic development and industrialisation through our state election manifesto,” a BJP leader who attended the session said.

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