Kolkata: After winning an impressive 18 out of 42 seats in West Bengal this general elections, the BJP is now eyeing next year’s civic polls to set the stage for 2021 assembly elections. The aim is to take on chief minister Mamata Banerjee in what will perhaps be her toughest challenge to retain her citadel from the saffron surge.
The BJP has been able to make successful inroads across the state. Not only has it managed to wrest 18 Lok Sabha seats (from a mere two in 2014) from the ruling TMC, it has also done well in nearly 51 out of 144 wards under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).
Speaking to News18, BJP's poll strategist for West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya, said, “In Bengal, people responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a new India. This is the reason they rejected the ruling TMC, accepted us and secured a win for us in 18 seats. Similarly, its impact was also seen in municipal wards and Assemblies in Bengal.”
Vijayvargiya said people accepted the BJP because of TMC’s “undemocratic style of functioning”. “People are fed up with TMC’s hooliganism. Going with this trend, (if there are free and fair polls) there is no doubt that we will take control over the KMC next year and Assembly polls in 2021.”
The voting patterns in South and North Kolkata suggest that BJP took the lead in nearly 24 and 26 wards, respectively, including ward number 82 in Chetla which belong to Mayor Firhad Hakim. In January, Hakim won (by-election) from Chetla by securing nearly 76.82 per cent votes. In 2010, he won from the same ward with nearly 72 per cent votes. His scale of victory was huge against BJP’s Jiban Sen who could manage only 11.95 per cent votes.
But this Lok Sabha elections, Hakim’s party colleague Mala Roy (Kolkata South candidate) managed to take the lead by around 1,000 votes only from this (Chetla) segment.
The voting patterns show that even in chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s own ward (number 73), the BJP was ahead by nearly 490 votes.
Sunil Deodhar, senior BJP leader and former RSS pracharak, said, “Government in Bengal may fall before 2021. See, the civic polls are going to be held in 2020. If we get the support of TMC councilors who are in touch with us, then the game is over as far as the TMC is concerned. People felt cheated by Mamata Banerjee.”
“It was anti-incumbency against the ruling TMC and pro-incumbency wave of Modi that gave us the mandate in Bengal,” he added.
The saffron surge was also felt in the wards of senior mayor-in-council members Swapan Samaddar (Ward 58), Ratan De (Ward 93), Debasish Kumar (Ward 85) and Jui Biswas (Ward 81) who could not secure leads. At least three borough TMC chairpersons — Sandip Bakshi, Ratan Malakar and Susanta Ghosh — trailed in their respective wards.
TMC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay also trailed in eight of the 11 wards at Jorasanko in Kolkata North Lok Sabha constituency. In Jadavpur, the TMC trailed in four wards.
However, Atin Ghosh, deputy mayor, KMC, rejected BJP’s claims, saying, “If we trailed in a few wards, it does not mean we are going to lose the KMC as well as the Assembly elections. Both KMC polls and Assembly polls are fought on local issues. The BJP should not see a huge success in this as we are going to change this trend soon.”