The BJP has decided to field members of civil society, including poets, teachers and authors, as its candidates for next year’s panchayat polls. BJP’s state leadership has already asked its district committees to send their feedback regarding the decision and prepare a primary list of candidates who will be acceptable to the people and have a clean image.
Preferences will be given to doctors, teachers, college professors, poets, authors, theatre personalities, retired government officers and anyone who are willing to work for the welfare of people. “We have asked our district committees to send their feedback in this regard. Final decision will be taken after compiling all reports,” BJP general secretary Pratap Banerjee told The Indian Express.
Panchayat polls are scheduled to be held in the state in April or May next year. In the three-tier system, there are 23 zila parishads, 335 panchayat samitis and 3,354 gram panchayats in West Bengal. For the ruling Trinamool Congress and Opposition parties, next year’s panchayat polls are seen as an acid test before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. To continue its impressive electoral run in the state, BJP wants to field as many candidates as possible in the rural polls. Out of 77,000 booths in the state, BJP is determined to field its candidates in 80 per cent of them and a large number of candidates will be from the civil society.
Speaking to The Indian Express, state BJP minority morcha president Ali Hossain said, “It is our agenda to field candidates who have a clean image. We will give priority to those who are acceptable to the people and have been doing respectable jobs. They may be doctors, teachers or social workers. Members of the civil society will get the first preference to be elected as our candidates.”
Hossain, however, said that candidates must have some understanding of how a political party functions. “Panchayat polls will be held in villages. So we have to select someone who is known to the entire village and is respected by all. We will select the best possible candidate from every village,” he added. BJP sources said the decision to field members of the civil society as it candidates were taken to enter into a tight contest with the ruling Trinamool Congress.
“Almost 90 per cent of the three-tier panchayat system is ruled by the TMC. If we have to give them a good fight then we have to project better candidates. Members of the civil society in villages and districts are well respected and clearly have an edge over elected Trinamool members who are corrupted and famous for flexing their muscles. Chances of our success in panchayat polls will be high if we can provide the people with a better alternative,” said a senior state BJP leader on condition of anonymity.