Bengal BJP eyes win over consolidation of majority vote

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Bengal BJP eyes win over consolidation of majority vote

At a time in Bengal when the Left, which has 10 per cent, are gradually losing numbers to the BJP - thanks to a majority consolidation being stirred up by the Hindi-speaking population of the state.

By Abhishek Sengupta/Reporting from West Bengal

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Published: Tue 14 May 2019, 7:48 AM

Last updated: Tue 14 May 2019, 10:34 AM

On the day before the sixth and penultimate phase of India's grand election, a blazing hot Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s national secretary, Rahul Sinha tells me - wiping the sweat trickling down his brows - that BJP will sweep Bengal - like they did across India in the last general election.
He sits in his air-conditioned office room on the first floor of the timeworn and cramped-up the BJP HQ founded in 1951 at its present address of 6, Murlidhar Sen Lane by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP.
But the heat and humidity of May-time Kolkata and the anxieties of running the last mile of a long arduous electoral race are visibly getting the better of him, which he tries to mask with wild exuberance and a vehemently raised fist. "We will win in Bengal," he thunders. "And that's thanks to two factors. Modi, for his performance (as PM in the last five years) and Mamata (Banerjee) for her misrule (as Bengal's CM) (sic)," he continues."
Sinha, who is contesting the election from Kolkata (North) constituency - one of the nine seats that go to polls in the seventh and final phase of election on Sunday - not only assures me that he will win his seat but also tries to convince that the BJP - if voting happens right in Bengal, he adds - have the capability to win 32 seats in Bengal, nine more than what the party is widely believed to targeting in Bengal at this election. And their narrative is clear: vote for Modi and vote against Didi, as Banerjee is famously called in Bengal.
On Monday, when Amit Shah touched down in Bengal to address public gatherings in Canning that's part of the Joynagar constituency and later in Rajarhat that falls under Barasat constituency, his rallying call echoed the same mawkishness. And while doing that, the BJP president blew up a political storm by saying that Banerjee's government has reduced "Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal)" to "Kangal Bangla (Poverty-stricken Bengal)".
"She is interested in protecting infiltrators to secure her vote bank but it won't save her from defeat that's imminent," Shah went on to assert in Barasat yesterday to a thunderous applause by an estimated gathering of around 5,000 party supporters - many of whom belonged to lower middle class from the seven legislative seats that make up Barasat constituency.

But will this euphoria really translate into vote share and seat? Only May 23 will tell. At a time in Bengal when the Left, which has a 30 per cent vote share, and the Congress, which has 10 per cent, are gradually losing numbers to the BJP - thanks to a majority consolidation being stirred up by the Hindi-speaking population of the state, Trinamool will still be number one in Bengal. But how far will the second team be remains the question.
The BJP won just two seats in Bengal in 2014 as did CPI (M) while the Congress won four and the Trinamool won 34 seats.

Why people in Barasat want BJP
Thirty-year-old Joy Barman, who works in a local pharmacy, was one of the thousands who attended the rally. He says that he is voting for BJP because he wants a change from an 'oppressive regime' under the current leadership in Bengal. "We are all tired of the reign of terror. I am tired too and we must have an alternative now. I have been forced to attend and show support for TMC rallies and gatherings in the past but today I have come out in full support for the BJP because I feel it in my heart," Barman, who took a day off to attend the rally, tells Khaleej Times.
Over four decades elder and visibly frail, Dhirendranath Sana, 72, a farmer by profession, said the same as did Ramprasad Barui, who is preparing for a government job and his friend Ananda Bera, a food delivery company staff. Ramprasad Barui and Ananda Bera are both 25 year old.
While 30-year-old insurance agent Rajesh Biswas and his driver friend Khokan Barua, 28, tell Khaleej Times that they are voting for the BJP "because of (Narendra) Modi". "Who else do we have as leader," they quip, when probed further.
Didi's gritty response
Infuriated by Amit Shah's comment at a rally in West Bengal that Golden Bengal has become beggar, the state's ruling Trinamool Congress chief lashed out at him by calling him a "fathead" and citing the Gujarat riots. Tweeting under the hashtag "#LowLife", senior party leader Derek O'Brien called him "puke-worthy".
"He (Amit Shah) is a fat-head. Half-literate. All they know is how to start a riot... I'm willing to lay down my life, but there will be no riot under my watch," said Mamata Banerjee, who had earlier accused prime minister and his party of using unparliamentary language and lowering the political discourse (sic).
Earlier, Shah's scheduled rally in Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat was called off on Monday after the state government denied him permission to land his chopper and hold a public address at Baruipur that comes under Jadavpur constituency.

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