BJP must win 200 seats: Amit Shah sets Bengal target

The Bharatiya Janata Party should win over 200 of the 294 seats in the West Bengal assembly elections due early next year, Union home minister Amit Shah said at a meeting of local leaders in Bankura on Thursday.

“The death knell of the Mamata Banerjee government has been sounded,” Shah said at the closed-door meeting attended by leaders from 13 districts.

The senior BJP leader is on a two-day visit to the state to devise the party’s strategy for the upcoming elections.

Addressing mediapersons after the meeting, the Union minister targeted chief minister Mamata Banerjee for “neglecting the poor, farmers, backward classes” in the state. “The Mamata Banerjee government has neglected the poor, the farmers, the backward classes and the tribal people and have oppressed BJP workers… I am confident that the BJP will come to power with two-third majority,” Shah said.

He also urged the people to oust the Banerjee-led state government. “I appeal to the people to overthrow this government and give the BJP an opportunity to serve and build sonar Bangla (a golden Bengal),” Shah said.

“You (Mamata Banerjee) are wrong if you think that you can stop the BJP by stopping central welfare schemes in West Bengal. If you let people enjoy the benefits of these schemes, they may at least spare some thoughts for you,” said Shah.

Shah accused the state police of not cooperating with the Border Security Force for the rise in crime along the India-Bangladesh border, while skirting questions on the imposition of President’s rule in Bengal as demanded by some BJP leaders.

He did not respond to questions on whether the BJP will project a chief ministerial candidate in the elections or not.

Following the meeting with the local leaders, the former BJP president travelled to Chaturdihi village with BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national secretary Arvind Menon, national vice-president Mukul Roy and other leaders to have lunch at the home of Bibhishan Hansda, a member of the local tribal community.

Shah stressed on the need to ensure that outreach programmes ahead of the elections translate into votes and did not remain a mere public relations exercise, leaders present at the meeting said.

Reacting to Shah’s statements, Banerjee said that her party will not tolerate politics of threat. “We will not tolerate the politics of threat. They use central probe agencies to keep people under pressure. Everybody should stay within limits. People of Bengal will not accept outsiders,” Banerjee said at an administrative meeting in Kolkata.

Expressing displeasure over the crowd seen at Shah’s meeting, Banerjee said, “A party is spreading the pandemic while common people are following Covid-19 health restrictions.”

“Amit Shah’s ambition of winning 200 assembly seats will remain a dream. Let BJP first find an acceptable face of its state leadership before contesting the polls,” TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy said in Kolkata.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats and showed its best performance in Bankura district.

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