After the debacle in Delhi polls, the BJP is looking at the next big electoral battle- the state of West Bengal.
The state of West Bengal is a crucial state that goes to polls in the upcoming future. Bihar too will go to polls towards the end of this year, but there the BJP will be fighting in alliance with Nitish Kumar who will be the BJP led NDA’s CM candidate.
In West Bengal, the BJP will essentially be on its own, when it goes to polls next year next year in a larger bilateral contest against the Mamata Banerjee led TMC.
After the drubbing that it got in Delhi, the BJP would want to make amends in West Bengal. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had proved that it is a rising force in West Bengal and during the Assembly polls, the party will want to push further.
In Delhi, the BJP increased its vote share substantially from 32 per cent in the 2015 polls to 38 per cent in the February 8 polls this year. However, the results are still quite a drubbing and an important lesson for the party.
One of the main causes behind BJP’s Delhi debacle was a weak state leadership. Manoj Tiwari as the Delhi BJP chief never really resonated with the electorate.
In face of weak local leadership, the party relied primarily upon PM Modi’s popularity and Union Home Minister, Amit Shah’s strategy. This was a clear case of overdependence on the Central leadership and the dire results are for everyone to see.
Until the state units of BJP are revamped, the party will not be able to break the trend of losing consecutive state elections, as banking on the popularity of PM Modi and Amit Shah is no longer reaping local benefits for the saffron party.
And the starting point of revamping the state units has to be the grooming of strong, potent local leadership, which can take up local issues with enough vigour to ensure that the BJP is able to retain its appeal during the Assembly polls.
Going into West Bengal polls, the party again misses a strong local leadership. During the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was able to win 18 out of 40 seats in the TMC ruled state, primarily because of the Modi wave at the time and then BJP chief, Amit Shah’s sheer hardwork.
As such the BJP doesn’t enjoy a strong leader- someone like Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Northeast, for example, who is able to get the BJP through almost single handedly in the region.
And this is where the role of West Bengal BJP President will be critical. The party certainly cannot rely upon the present party chief, Dilip Ghosh in West Bengal.
Dilip Ghosh has turned out to be too much of a controversial leader, something that doesn’t help the BJP in fully leveraging the ongoing anti-incumbency wave against Mamata Banerjee owing to political violence, anti-Hindu policies and appeasement politics in West Bengal.
Recently, he had made rather bizarre remarks at a rally, claiming that anti CAA rioters would be shot down. He had said, “Didi’s (Mamata Banerjee) police didn’t take action against the people who destroyed public properties as they are her voters. Our governments in UP, Assam and Karnataka have shot these people like dogs.”
Even in the month of Augusy last year, Dilip Ghosh had some avoidable and controversial comments. He had said, “I heard that they (TMC leaders) have sent a police officer to Midnapore to terrorise, beat and harass our party workers. We ignored the matter. Tobe ami je din marbo, tomar laash khunje pawa jabe na… bole dicchi… Tomar barir lok tomar mukhey agun dite parbe na (But now I would like to tell you, that the day I will start attacking, no one would be able to trace your body. Your family members would not be able to perform your last rites.”
West Bengal wants to get rid of the present TMC dispensation, because of the sheer political violence that has been plaguing the state all this while.
The BJP has been critical of the ruling TMC’s anti-Hindu policies and the fact that the state has topped the list of political murders in the country.
The electorate also seems to believe that toppling the present Mamata Banerjee regime and bringing BJP into power is the solution to the ongoing crisis in the state.
In such circumstances, it doesn’t really augur well for the BJP to go into polls with a controversial state leader. His controversial remarks can derail the BJP campaign and its narrative in favour of clean governance.
The biggest takeaway for the BJP from Delhi has to be the need of a strong, local leadership. While chalking out its poll strategy for West Bengal, the BJP must find an appropriate replacement for Dilip Ghosh, or else, West Bengal could turn out to be another Delhi and Ghosh could well turn out to be another Manoj Tiwari.