NEW DELHI: Keen to defend the ground that BJP gained in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with an unprecedented 18 of 42 parliamentary seats, the party leadership has already planned its moves for the 2024 contest with at least three Union ministers tasked to focus on the state.
Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani and Jyotiraditya Scindia have been deputed for the state. They have started taking stock of issues since BJP lost some ground and Mamata Banerjee’s TMC registered a landslide victory in the 2021 assembly polls for a third consecutive term in office. Others like Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha are also expected to be roped in later.
With ex-Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhakhar having moved out of Raj Bhavan in Kolkata to become the vice-president, the pressure from the Centre on the state government, will now have to be mounted through various channels, according to party insiders.
The BJP leadership has recently instructed its state party unit to blunt campaigns like alleged “deal” between TMC and BJP, following Mamata meeting with PM Narendra Modi in Delhi recently, as it only dilutes the attack being planned on Bengal government, as per party sources.
With the idea of regaining ground in Bengal, Pradhan — known to have a good working relationship with the party’s leader of opposition in state Suvendu Adhikari — has been given the charge to supervise all 42 parliamentary constituencies in the state. Pradhan was actively working with Adhikari, who had switched from TMC and defeated the chief minister in Nandigram, even in 2021.
Irani is likely to be deployed on seats where women voters are a dominant factor and had voted in a big way for the ‘Didi’ (Banerjee)-led TMC in 2021. Both Pradhan and Irani speak Bangla, making it an added advantage to work at the local level. Scindia has so far been asked to look into one of the largest constituencies in the state, Dumdum. represented by veteran parliamentarian Saugata Roy, but he may get adjacent seats too under his charge.