To make inroads into Bengal and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s solid support base among the minorities, BJP is mulling over to field the sizeable number of Muslim candidates in the coming Lok Sabha elections in 2019 with an intent to garner the sizeable share of this numerically strong vote bank.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had fielded only two minority candidates in the state, which has a total of 42 seats. The party presently has only two Lok Sabha seats — Asansol and Darjeeling — in the state.
The BJP’s desire to make a shift in its political strategy in West Bengal seems inspired by winning a good number of seats in the local body elections early this year. The BJP had fielded more than 850 candidates from the minority community in the three-tier Panchayat polls with nearly half of them winning the elections.
However, in the last couple of years, Bengal politics has witnessed an exemplary shift with the BJP emerging as the main opposition to the TMC by outwitting the CPI (M) and the Congress.
Talking to news agency PTI, State BJP President Dilip Ghosh Said, “the party will aim to field “considerable” number of Muslim candidates, given the fact that the state has nearly 30 per cent Muslim population”.
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“Although in our party, tickets are not distributed on the basis of religion, we are receiving several applications from people of the minority community, expressing their desire to contest elections on our party ticket,” Ghosh added.
Mr. Ghosh said there is still time left to decide on the issue of candidates and tickets will be distributed on the basis of eligibility, winnability and capability of an individual. Ghosh’s views were echoed by party’s Bengal Minority Morcha chief Ali Hossain, who felt Muslims are a deciding factor in the Bengal elections and the party cannot afford to ignore them.
The ruling TMC, however, denounced BJP’s minority outreach plan and asserted that they (Minority) continue to have faith in party chief and CM Mamata Banerjee.
“The minorities have full faith in us. The BJP’s strategy is nothing but a farce and the minorities are very well aware of their intentions,” senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said.
The Congress and the CPI (M) also faulted the BJP’s Muslim outreach plan saying it was nothing but “shedding crocodile tears” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.