Poll Preparation: BJP Appoints 5 Central Leaders to Assess Its Strengths and Weaknesses in Bengal

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Insiders say there are differences of opinion among party leaders in the state. Therefore, it was decided to appoint central leaders to get the actual status of the party in West Bengal.

Sujit Nath

To assess its organisational strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 2021 assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) divided West Bengal into five zones and appointed five central leaders on Tuesday to get an ‘unbiased report’ on its present position in the state.

Those picked are Vinod Kumar Sonkar (for Rarh region comprising Western Murshidabad, Northern Birbhum, Eastern Burdwan, parts of Hooghly, Howrah, East Midnapore and parts of Bankura district, Jhargram), Vinod Tawde (Nabadwip in Nadia district), Dushyant Kumar Gautam (Kolkata), Harish Dwivedi (North Bengal), and Sunil Deodhar (West Midnapore and Hooghly).

Dushyant Kumar Gautam is a vice-president of the BJP and he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana this year. Harish Dwivedi is a national secretary of the BJP, while Vinod Tawde is a senior party leader from Maharashtra.

Vinod Kumar Sonkar is a BJP MP from Kaushambi. He is also the national president of the BJP SC morcha and the current chairperson of the parliamentary committee on ethics. Sunil Deodhar is a national secretary and a former RSS pracharak. He was the campaign manager for Narendra Modi in the Varanasi constituency in 2014.

These five central leaders will have a series of meetings in their respective zones and they will submit a report to party president JP Nadda in a week. This is perhaps a very significant move as central BJP doesn’t want to take any chances ahead of the assembly polls and therefore it has not engaged any local leaders for the task to get the actual ground report.

The decision was taken at Tuesday's organisational meeting where all the senior party leaders including BL Santhosh, Amit Malviya, Arvind Menon, Shiv Prakash, Kailash Vijayvargiya, etc, were present.

In the context of why central leaders were appointed for five zones in Bengal and no one from the state leadership was tasked with the assignment, a senior BJP leader said, "There are differences of opinion among party leaders in the state. Therefore, it was decided to appoint central leaders to get the actual status of the party in Bengal. They will interact directly with the district-level leaders and workers (in the absence of senior state leaders and observers) to assess the real situation and problems being faced by the party. This will help the party to plug loopholes."

In the 2016 assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress retained its majority in the legislative assembly by winning 211 seats out of the total 294. The BJP won only three. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP shocked the TMC camp by winning 18 of the state's 42 Lok Sabha seats.

But in the past few months, the TMC has managed to regain lost ground in refugee and tribal-dominated areas in Jangalmahal, while the BJP is looking for ways to counter the Muslim votes going to TMC and repercussions of the Centre’s moves on CAA and NRC.

"The whole idea is to visit each and every house to strengthen the party at the grassroots level," BJP general secretary Anupam Hazra said. "Through this initiative, those who went into silent mode, due to some reasons within the party, will be brought back into action again. We consider booth-level workers our important soldiers and they will be given more responsibility."

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