In a bid to boost party morale for the 2018 panchayat elections, BJP national president Amit Shah on Wednesday said the victory of three party candidates in the recently held Assembly polls proved that the BJP could no longer be ignored in the state.
“We might have secured only three seats in the Assembly, but that is not always the indicator after the polls. In Haryana and Assam, we had only a handful of MLAs in the past, but in the last Assembly polls we were able to form the governments there. The statistics show that BJP can no longer be ignored in the state,” Shah, who was visiting Kolkata for the first time since the Assembly polls, said during a party programme at Mahajati Sadan here.
Apart from state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who won the Kharagpur Sadar seat by defeating veteran Congress leader and alliance candidate Gyan Singh Sohanpal, BJP won Malda’s Baishnabnagar seat and Madarihat seat in north Bengal, both by defeating alliance candidates. This time, BJP has secured around 20,000 to 30,000 votes in 66 seats, 30,000 to 40,000 votes in 16 seats and around 40,000 to 50,000 votes in six seats.
“Our voter percentage has increased from 4 per cent in 2011 to 10 per cent in this election, registering a growth of two-and-a-half times. We have registered a 20 per cent vote share in north Bengal,” Shah said.
The BJP chief said after the victory in Assam, BJP’s main target would be to form the next government in Bengal. “After Assam, our main aim will be to form governments in states like Bengal. If we look at BJP-ruled states, we can see that in Gujarat we had secured 7 per cent votes the year before coming to power. Similarly, BJP had secured 8 per cent votes in Karnataka and 5 per cent in Maharashtra before being voted to power there. I can clearly see that the BJP workers here have laid a solid foundation with 10 per cent votes, and the party would rise to power in the next election.” Shah said amid thunderous applause and chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai!’ by BJP workers.
He added: “In whichever state the BJP has formed the government, be it Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, it is still in power. Because people know that BJP means development, BJP means overall development of the poor and downtrodden.”
Shah appealed to party workers to begin preparations for the 2018 panchayat polls. “We should begin preparations for the 2018 panchayat polls, and try to increase the vote percentage here. Our workers must understand that there is no scope for rest till we have a BJP government here,” Shah said.
The BJP chief also pointed out that infiltration from Bangladesh into West Bengal would not stop unless a BJP government was installed in the state. Countering criticism by opposition parties over the many foreign trips of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah argued that Modi had actually undertaken less foreign trips than his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
“If you go through the statistics you will see that Modiji had undertaken less foreign trips than his predecessor Manmohan Singh. Manmohan Singhji also undertook several foreign trips, but the difference is that no one was aware of such trips, because he used to visit foreign countries silently and come back silently. But whenever Modiji visits a foreign country, thousands of people come out to greet him. Modi is taking India to the world and thus gets all the attention on his trips,” Shah said.
“This love and respect is not meant for Modiji but for the people of the country,” he added. Talking about the GST Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Shah said the bill would usher in a new era of economic reforms and development in the country.
“Today the GST Bill has been placed in Parliament. The Bill is very important for West Bengal. With its passage, a new era of economic reforms will be ushered in, and it will contribute to the development of the country,” the BJP president said.
Shah said the biggest achievement of the BJP government was to check corruption in the country, and Modi ensured that poor people had bank accounts, enabling them to receive benefits directly.
“By the direct transfer of subsidies, corruption worth thousands of crores of rupees has been checked. India is witnessing a new era of hope under the BJP rule, which is in sharp contrast to the despair the country had witnessed during the Congress rule,” he said.
Significantly, in his 40-minute speech, Shah remained silent on the Saradha chit fund scam as well as the Narada sting row. Party insiders said Shah had been handed talking points for all these issues, but he refrained from attacking the Trinamool Congress government. Political scientists connected this to the BJP banking on TMC’s support at the Rajya Sabha to pass the GST Bill.
(With PTI inputs)