Amit Shah has announced that the BJP is looking for 22-plus seats in West Bengal. What is your take on the BJP’s prospects?
I believe we will surpass that number. We are looking to win 25 to 30 seats in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha. Over the last four years I have been canvassing in one district after another in Bengal. So are other leaders. We have our organisation ready — from polling booths to Shakti Kendras (each with 7 to 10 booths), then mandals and up to the district level. We now have a strong organisation from the top to the grassroot level in West Bengal. Our booth-level organisation is ready to tackle any kind of intimidation or violence the Trinamool Congress may be planning on election day.
What is the BJP focussing on?
Our aim is to see that free and fair polls are held in Bengal. During the panchayat elections, people were not allowed to vote and there was violence. Our national leaders approached the Election Commission of India and provided proof in the form of videos and photographs. We also gave them proofs of political killings. So far, the Commission has banned the civic police from poll duty. That is a positive step because civic police are Trinamool Congress workers.
The BJP has been alleging that a section of police officers and government servants are working on behalf of the ruling party in Bengal.
We have submitted a list of names of government officials and police who are known to work for the ruling party during elections. These police officers and government officials are not impartial. We have asked for them to be barred from poll duty. We have also requested the Commission to make sure that besides deploying Central forces at polling booths, there should also be mobile units of forces so that people are not threatened by the Trinamool Congress at their homes and can come to the polling booth to vote. We also want these Central forces to be supervised by officers who are out of Bengal. We also have a system where we will set up a control room to monitor the polls and approach the Election Commission and observers when needed… Our ultimate aim is that people vote fearlessly to make Narendra Modi prime minister once again.
You have fielded candidates who joined the BJP from other parties, including the Trinamool Congress. After the announcement of the candidate list, there have been protests in some seats.
In elections, there are no gold, silver and bronze medalists. There are only winners and losers. We have fielded candidates who can win. We had 8 to 12 candidates in each of 42 Lok Sabha seats. This proves that our organisation has grown in strength in Bengal since 2014. Once the names came to us, we did three surveys in each of constituencies on the proposed candidates. If you visit the seats, you will see how good our candidates are.
Click here for more election news
How do you assess your opposition?
The Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and Congress are opportunists and their politics is devoid of any ideology. They are all working for their own benefits. While they are fighting each other in Bengal, nationally, they are trying to form a coalition against Narendra Modi. They are not committed to people, society or the country.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been aggressive in taking on Modi.
We do not mind it when they say wrong things about Narendra Modi. But when she (Mamata Banerjee) insults our Army, it is unacceptable. Statements made by the Bengal CM are on the front pages of newspapers in Pakistan. We may have ideological differences, but it is sad how some people give statements casting doubts on our army in the name of appeasement politics.