BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who played a crucial role in the party’s spectacular performance in West Bengal, speaks to The Indian Express about the ‘tumultuous’ political atmosphere and the BJP’s plans in the state.
After the BJP’s stupendous performance in West Bengal, what is the immediate plan for the party in the state?
It is a big win for the BJP. First we will have to prepare a plan so that the party retains its lead in constituencies we have won. We have to take steps to retain people’s faith in us. We have to keep the voters in confidence that this was a vote against the TMC and that we will provide a good and conducive atmosphere. So we will have to sit with the MPs and make plans for their constituencies. We have to expand our strength and organisation expansion is crucial.
Is the tally as you expected?
The Election Commission provided us a lot of help. But if the Commission had rounded up around 10,000 listed antisocial elements, things would have been better for us. Because of the antisocial elements, an atmosphere of fear and terror was spread, which did not let the voters come out. Many polling booths were captured. If the atmosphere was better, the BJP would have won at least 30 seats.
What helped the BJP keep the momentum after performing well in the panchayat election?
It was due to Amit Shah’s farsightedness that the BJP started preparing the ground immediately after the 2014 elections. He started focusing on West Bengal four years ago. I was sent there and every plan was rolled out with his support. Another important factor was the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His leadership helped us spread the party’s message and the people’s fascination for him played magic for us.
So, was it a vote in favour of BJP or against TMC?
It was both positive and negative. It was a vote for those who want development, industrialisation, job creation and law and order. Those who want it voted for Modi. A large section of the electorate voted for TMC because democracy had ceased to exist in the state. However, under TMC, they became breathless again and wanted freedom from the undemocratic atmosphere. They believed only BJP could bring democracy.
There has been an observation that the BJP could win in West Bengal because of communal polarisation, that it played on insecurity among Hindus?
We did not do any communal polarisation. The insecurity among Hindus was due to the appeasement policies of the Mamata Banerjee government. Her moves to provide financial support for madrasas and moulavis, banning of Hindu festivals and Ram Navami processions triggered anger among the community. People were angry with the government.
BJP’s campaign emphasised the citizenship Bill and National Register for Citizens (NRC). Will you pursue those?
A hundred per cent. The BJP government will soon get the citizenship Bill passed in Parliament, it is one of our top priority Bills. For the NRC in West Bengal, the BJP has to come to power. West Bengal must have an NRC because it has around 2 crore infiltrators. These two remain a key issue for us.
During the campaign PM Modi said 40 TMC MLAs were in touch with BJP. Other BJP leaders put the number at 100. Is there a threat to the Banerjee government now?
The BJP is not threatening the TMC government. Her dictatorship is the threat. She has been ignoring her senior leaders to promote her nephew. There is a lot of anger and discontent within the party. So many people can leave the party. The BJP will not break the government, it will fall on its own. If the ruling party keeps the goons in front, true politicians will feel upset. We feel the political atmosphere is tumultuous. Anything can happen in TMC.
Some BJP leaders said it was the CPM cadre that voted for the BJP en masse to defeat Banerjee?
It is not like that. At the ground level, a lot of people are upset with the state government and ruling party. Whoever felt the BJP could save them voted for us. Some CPM cadre votes must have come to us. But TMC’s vote share also did not come down, which means it got some from the CPM.
Who will lead the BJP in West Bengal? Mukul Roy?
That decision will be taken by the BJP leadership. Roy is a very important leader for us in Bengal and he played a key role in BJP’s performance there. He will continue to play a crucial role there.