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Ram Mandir spectacle to be a key driver of BJP’s campaign in Bengal


Ram Mandir spectacle to be a key driver of BJP’s campaign in Bengal

Kolkata, Jan 27 (IANS) The nationwide euphoria over the Ram Temple’s inauguration seems to have spurred the West Bengal BJP leadership to weave that ecstasy into its campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls this year.

While it is too early to predict how far this strategy will help the saffron camp achieve its target of winning 35 out of 42 seats in West Bengal in the general elections, as of now the state unit of the BJP has outlined a two-pronged strategy to successfully turn the fervour into votes.

The first part of the strategy is to spread the message that the inauguration of the Ram temple is evidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfills the promises that he makes to voters.

State BJP leaders have started claiming that just as the promise of the Ram temple has been fulfilled, the promise of freeing West Bengal from the “triple-cancer” of corruption, violence and underdevelopment will also be fulfilled in the near future if the people of the state vote overwhelmingly to ensure Modi’s third term as the Prime Minister of India.

The second part of the strategy is to highlight how the Opposition (read Trinamool Congress) through its attempt to create a counter-narrative has insulted the sentiments of millions of Indians, including those from West Bengal, associated with the Ram temple.

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Apart from this, the state BJP is chalking out its constituency-wise blueprint by dividing the 42 Lok Sabha seats into three categories.

State BJP insiders said that the first category includes those Lok Sabha constituencies where the victories are more or less guaranteed, going by the trend of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2021 Assembly polls.

The second category includes those Lok Sabha constituencies where the probability is 50:50 or even 60:40 with the swing marginally tilting towards the Opposition in case of the latter.

According to the state leadership of the BJP, an organised campaign programme and the choice of the right candidates can swing the votes into the saffron camp.

That is exactly why, said a state committee member of the BJP, the party leadership is in favour of announcing its candidate list after the Trinamool Congress.

“This will help us field the right candidates for this second category of constituencies after doing the SWOT analysis of the Trinamool Congress candidates there,” the state committee member said.

The final and third category includes those constituencies, where the BJP is way behind the Trinamool Congress, both in terms of organisational strengths and in terms of vote shares in 2019 and 2021.

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However, in a couple of seats in this category as well, like the Diamond Harbour constituency in South 24 Parganas District, the BJP is expecting a miracle propelled by the twin factors of the consolidation of majority votes and a sharp division in the minority votes because of the emergence of the All India Secular Front (AISF) factor.

The Trinamool Congress, on its part, seems to be treading cautiously, in combating these strategies of the saffron camp.

The line that the Trinamool Congress is taking is that the BJP has deliberately over-hyped and over-publicised the Ram Mandir inauguration issue to divert attention from other burning issues like inflation, rising unemployment and more importantly non-payment of central dues to the state government.

As pointed out by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the end of the party’s Harmony Rally in Kolkata on January 22, this euphoria over the Ayodhya consecration event is a bid to divert attention from the plight of the poor in the country.

“What has been happening since morning, it seems like publicity for yet another freedom movement has started. But what will happen tomorrow? My only plea is that religion should not be observed on the sacrifice of poor people,” Mamata Banerjee said at the rally.

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On somewhat similar lines the Trinamool Congress’ General Secretary and Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee issued an appeal to the people to keep religion aside while going to the polling booths.

“You can vote for the Trinamool Congress or CPI-M, or for the Congress or the BJP. But do not vote in the name of religion. Rather vote in the name of the services provided to you. Neither the Prime Minister nor the President, neither the Chief Minister nor the Governor is ultimate in democracy. Only people have the final word in democracy,” he said.

In West Bengal the Congress and the CPI-M-led Left Front have restricted their respective attacks so far to describing the BJP and Trinamool Congress as clandestine beneficiaries of each other on this issue of “exploitation of religion for politics.”

The state leaderships of the Congress as well as the Leftist camp have accused both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress of peddling “competitive communalism” for political benefits.

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