Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a very deep and strong roots in Varanasi.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a very deep and strong roots in Varanasi. It may be a small player in West Bengal, but in what is called ‘mini Bengal’, BJP’s flag flying is flying high! Where? We are not talking Mamata Banerjee, we are talking PM Narendra Modi’s own constituency Varanasi. The city has about 80,000 Bengalis in a total of 12 lakh population spread over from Dashashwamedh ghat to Sonarpura with the largest section in Bengali Tola. Intriguingly, the number today represents only a fifth of the mammoth four lakh who once lived here – the more influential families having migrated back to Kolkata, according to Indian Express.
Apart from the fact that BJP denied the Varanasi South ticket to Shyamdeb Roy Choudhury who was a seven-time MLA and widely known as ‘Dada’, many residents of Bengali Tola still reaffirm their faith in the party. Atul Sarkar, who runs a sweet shop was quoted as saying that whenever in trouble, people would approach Shyamdeb Roy and he too used to often come to meet people. Atul added that they do feel a sense of loss with the party not giving him a ticket, but at the same time Atul is also assertive that they (poeople) will still vote for BJP as they were doing in the past.
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While, surprisingly, Bengalis are showing faith in the party, there are some non-Bengalis who have turned against BJP as they have been hurt by the denial of ticket to Roy Choudhury. Parvez Mallick from Muslim-dominated Golgadda said that even some Muslims voted for Dada as he was such a nice person. He added that not only Bengalis but many sections of Hindus are unhappy, and are going against the BJP.
So the question here arises, what exactly attracts the Bengalis of Varanasi to the BJP? Devashish Paul, who works with an NGO explained the reason. He said that most Bengalis in Varanasi belong to the upper castes and are mainly Brahmins. They were religious and settled near Ganga and Kashi Vishwanath. And the BJP is a party that is associated with Hindu religion. He also cited the example of Shambhunath Batul, who won many local body elections as an independent but lost when he contested as a Trinamool candidate. Meanwhile, Ajoy Mukherjee is the CPI candidate from Varanasi Cantonment, Ashok Satara, a Bengali youth, dismisses his chances and said no one else but PM Modi’s party will win here.