To consolidate Hindu votes in West Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP is preparing strategies to cash in on the legislation to provide 10 per cent quota for economically backward sections in general category and the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
According to the 2010 Sinho Commission report that suggested criteria for identification of economically backward classes, West Bengal has 15.2 per cent of the total population of general category people in the country — the largest, followed by Maharashtra at 13.3 per cent.
The BJP would soon finalise detailed programmes for utilising the two legislations the Centre has taken initiative for, sources said. The party has already indicated that it would use the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, pending before Rajya Sabha, to reach out to Hindu Bangladeshi refugees.
Quota move could give a push to BJP efforts in state
West Bengal, which has 42 Lok Sabha seats, is one of the states from where the BJP is expecting major gains in the upcoming general election. Party leaders admit that winning maximum seats in the state has become a priority so that the possible losses in the Hindi heartland can be compensated. In the state, where the elections could be highly polarised in the wake of Citizenship Amendment Bill, the government’s move on EWS quota could give a push to BJP’s attempts to consolidate the Hindu votes.
“A large section of people in the state are happy that the BJP-led government has taken these two steps. We will chart out different ways to campaign about them,” BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told The Indian Express.
“In Bengal, a large section of people can take benefit of the reservation for EWS quota. BJP will definitely do everything to use it to create a conducive atmosphere for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls,” Vijayvargiya said.
“In West Bengal, there is lot of anger within the Hindu community over Muslim appeasement policies of consecutive governments. The state has fixed 10 per cent for Muslims in government jobs also. So, the new law on EWS quota could favour us,” said a party source. He said the BJP’s acceptability among tribal constituencies too has gone up. “Tribals of Jhargram and Purulia voted en masse for the BJP in panchayat elections. This acceptability has grown in rural areas too. So, the EWS quota and BJP government’s attempts to regulate illegal migrants would make the electorate more optimistic about the party,” the source added.
BJP leaders say that with the CPM “disintegrating further” and Congress prospects “diminishing”, the party could “throw surprises” in the state.
Sources said that BJP joint general secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash, who is working with the West Bengal unit, has succeeded in bringing different groups of the party and Sangh Parivar to work together, and Vijayvargiya has managed to attract leaders like Mukul Roy — earlier with the TMC — to the party fold.
In West Bengal, the BJP has launched an intense campaign to garner support for Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. BJP’s ‘Save Bengal’ campaign — aimed at enlisting the support of Bengalis across the country to defeat the TMC government — is organising a special meeting on Tuesday to talk about the Citizenship Bill.