Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice of Asansol MP Babul Supriyo as Minister of State for Urban Development has yet again driven home the message that the BJP attaches immense importance to West Bengal.
In recent times, the state has seen a surge in support for BJP with many leaders in rural pockets crossing over to the party from the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The elevation of Babul is aimed at further consolidating this growing support and aims to boost BJP’s poll fortunes in two upcoming elections in the state — the 2015 Kolkata municipal polls and the 2016 assembly polls.
Babul won the Asansol Lok Sabha seat by defeating Trinamool’s Dola Sen, a formidable trade union leader and a close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in his maiden poll outing.
Senior leaders of the BJP in Bengal expressed joy after Babul was sworn in Sunday. The BJP Yuva Morcha took out a procession from Entally Market in Kolkata chanting slogans and distributing sweets.
Most state leaders said the move will propel BJP’s rise in Bengal. State BJP president Rahul Sinha said, “We are naturally very happy.
Now the development of Bengal will take place at an equal footing with the rest of the country. We all hope that he (Babul) would perform his duty efficiently.”
State BJP in-charge Siddarth Nath Singh said it was a message for the people of Bengal. “As the state in-charge, I am happy that Bengal has got a representation and I am grateful to the PM. The people of Bengal should realise that they have given the PM two MPs and he has given the state one minister. So the strike rate is impressive. Had they given him 10 MPs, they would have got five ministers. I hope the people of Bengal would appreciate that and place more trust in BJP,” he said.
BJP has two MPs in Bengal—Babul and S S Ahluwalia from Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. Sources said Babul was preferred over Ahluwalia as the party wanted young and popular faces in the ministry. Babul, a renowned singer, was therefore a natural choice over the Darjeeling MP.
Babul’s choice can also be attributed to the fact that he represents the Bengali ethos and has a “son of the soil” image.
However, what might have tilted the scales in Babul’s favour is the Darjeeling factor and the Gorkhas’ separate statehood movement, which is currently lying dormant.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha had joined hands with the BJP during the Lok Sabha polls, largely due to the latter’s acknowledgment of the need to create smaller states. However, the two allies currently have serious differences over the creation of a separate Gorkhaland.
The induction of Ahluwalia, at this point, could have worked as a fillip to the statehood movement, which BJP wants to avoid now, said highly-placed sources from BJP.