Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee met political strategist Prashant Kishor here on Thursday. Although TMC leaders were tight-lipped about the meeting, sources said the party has signed up Kishor to help it fight the BJP in West Bengal.
The BJP won 18 seats in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, making major gains in the state for the first time. It was a major setback for the TMC, whose tally came down to 22 seats. The state is scheduled for Assembly polls in 2021.
Kishor —- who helped out with the recent electoral success of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2015 —- came to Nabanna (state secretariat) in the afternoon along with TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee. His meeting with the CM lasted an hour and 40 minutes. According to party sources, Banerjee and Kishor deliberated on the causes of the TMC’s setback, and Kishor explained his readings for the state seat by seat.
According to TMC sources, Kishor will be working for the party from Friday to identify areas where the party needs to improve and help draw up a strategy to combat the BJP before the Assembly polls.
“He is a poll expert, and naturally our leader listened to his opinion about the causes and trends in the Lok Sabha polls. They also deliberated on a roadmap prescribed by Banerjee to stop the BJP from advancing in Bengal,” said a senior TMC leader. “Kishor will help our party chief plan a strategy to counter the BJP, who are depending on using money and muscle power to win elections.”
Later in the day, Banerjee said the TMC has set up a fact-finding committee on the BJP’s alleged use of money power in Lok Sabha polls. “One should probe how money went into various accounts during the polls. We have set up a fact-finding committee. I request journalists to look into this,” she said.
The TMC has also embarked on an outreach initiative. Senior party leaders will be at the party headquarters in Kolkata from morning till afternoon to redress public grievances.
While Purnendu Bose and Indranil Sen will be present in the party office every morning, leaders and ministers like Rajib Banerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, Sovandeb Chatterjee, Chandrima Bhattacharya and Abhishek Banerjee will be posted in the afternoon.
Visiting the home of Nirmal Kundu, a party leader from Nimta in North 24 Parganas who was shot dead recently, Banerjee announced that the case has been handed over to the CID. Police have arrested two BJP workers in the case.
“Lok Sabha elections are over. We are taking steps politically and they (BJP) should take political steps. Instead, they are resorting to mindless violence in Bengal. They have won by manipulating EVMs, now they are spreading terror. We have given this murder case to the CID. My party workers have been murdered…,” said Banerjee while participating in a dharna near Kundu’s house.
Banerjee also protested against a tweet by Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy on girls from Bengal working in dance bars. “He is in a constitutional post. How can he say such a thing? This is an insult to Bengal and Bengal’s women. People of Bengal will not tolerate this,” said Banerjee