By Pradipta Tapadar
Kolkata, Dec 25 (PTI) BJP leaders in West Bengal are struggling to meet a mass outreach target set by party chief Amit Shah ahead of the panchayat elections even as the party grapples with infighting and lack of coordination among the state BJP members.
A section of the BJP’s central leadership believes that the party is making steady inroads into the Trinamool Congress-ruled Bengal, once a bastion of the Left Front, but owing to several reasons its state unit has not been able to capitalise on the wave fully.
The results of various elections that followed the 2016 assembly polls have shown a steep rise in party’s vote share and paved way for its emergence as the prime challenger to the ruling TMC in Bengal.
Although the state BJP leadership received a pat on its back from none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday for a significant rise in ballot share with 18 per cent votes, a senior leader admitted that the party still has a long way to go to woo its voters.
“We are yet to reach out to all 77,000 booths in the state. Our party president Amit Shah, during his visit to Bengal earlier this year, had set a target for creation of booth committees by the end of 2017. But we have been able to meet just 65 to 70 per cent of the target,” a senior central BJP leader told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary and the Bengal in-charge, however, said the work to constitute committees would most likely be over by next month.
“We hope that the work will be completed (forming booth- level committees) by January 2018,” he said.
The party’s central leadership has also stressed on the need to rope in intellectuals who act as catalysts in creating public opinion.
“Due to infighting among a section of leaders the overall growth of the party is getting hampered. A section of leaders is not happy with the present leadership’s high-handedness and has become inactive,” a senior state BJP leader said.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh too agreed that the party is yet to reach out to all the booths of the state.
“It is true that we have not been able to reach out to all booths. There are reasons behind it. In minority-dominated districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia, we have a support base, but no one is ready to man the booth committees fearing backlash by the TMC and a section of minorities,” Ghosh said.
Ghosh, however, rubbished allegations of high-handedness and said had it been so, the party would not have been able to increase its vote share in various elections.
According to state BJP leaders, the party is facing resistance in 30 per cent minority booths.
BJP national joint general secretary (organisation) Shivprakash, who is also the co-incharge of the Bengal unit, said the performance of the party in the state is only getting better.
“The performance is not bad, we are growing steadily. I will not call it satisfactory but it is encouraging,” he told PTI.
The party’s minority morcha, however, has tasted some success with its mandal committees covering over 85 per cent of their job. On an average, a mandal committee has 70-80 booths under it, depending upon the size of the area.
“We will complete the rest of our work by this month. And we are also organising a state conference of Minority Morcha on January 11 next year,” the president of West Bengal BJP Minority Morcha, Ali Hossain, told PTI.