West Bengal Panchayat election 2018: In what may be seen as a tectonic shift in BJP strategy, the party has fielded an overwhelming number of Muslim candidates in the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state.
West Bengal Panchayat election 2018: In what may be seen as a tectonic shift in BJP strategy, the party has fielded an overwhelming number of Muslim candidates in the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state. The BJP, which is known for not fielding candidates from the community, has given tickets to over 850 candidates from the community for the rural polls starting on May 14.
The move seems to be an unprecedented experiment from for the party. In the last panchayat polls of 2013, the saffron party had fielded less than 100 candidates from the minority community.
Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress claims to be not worried about the development. Senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said that minorities have full faith in the TMC. He added the BJP is giving nominations to minorities and is fuelling riots in the state at the same time.
In 2016 Assembly elections in the state, the saffron party had fielded only six Muslim candidates out of its list of 294 nominees. Speaking to PTI, BJP Minority Morcha president Ali Hossain said Muslims amount to 30 per cent of the total population in the state and the party has to reach out to the community. “The minority community too has realized that BJP is no longer their enemy as projected by TMC and other parties,” Hossain said.
Dilip Ghosh, the president of party’s state unit, said the party would have fielded more than 2,000 minority candidates had the nomination process been peaceful. He further said that the party will repeat this strategy in 2019 general election, depending on the winnability of the candidates.
“We will not give tickets because of religion or caste but only on the criteria of ‘winnability’,” he said. Some PTI sources have said that former TMC leader Mukul Roy, who had joined BJP last year, had played an important role in selection of candidates and ensuring that the party has higher number of Muslim candidates in the polls.
The former TMC leader has also brought in dissidents of TMC and the Left to the party to field them under BJP symbol. For the first time ever, the saffron party has outsmarted the Congress and CPI(M) to emerge as the second largest party after the ruling TMC in the number of candidates.
The rural polls in West Bengal have gained significance as the BJP, which is ruling the Centre and an overwhelming number of states, has time and again said the state will be its “focus state” in the next Parliamentary polls.
The BJP has fielded a maximum number of Muslim nominees in Murshidabad, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Birbhum and South 24 Parganas, he said.