BJP, Trinamool take to grassroots drives, target 2021 Assembly polls

Mamata Banerjee, BJP, Trinamool, The Federal
To deal with complaints of corruption in delivery of government schemes, Banerjee has now set up a CMO Monitoring of Programme Implementation and Grievances Cell. Photo: PTI

Well past the bitter rivalry that West Bengal witnessed during the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are now gearing up for the 2021 state Assembly polls.

While the BJP’s ambitious membership drive has crossed the halfway mark of its one crore target in the state, the TMC has just announced an outreach programme at the grassroots level reach out to the masses and take note of their grievances.

On Monday (July 29), Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the mass outreach programme besides launching a digital portal, Didike Bolo (Tell Didi), and a mobile helpline. The Chief Minister is fondly referred to as Didi (elder sister) in the state.

Speaking about the campaign at a press meet in Kolkata, Banerjee said that over a period of 100 days, more than 1,000 elected public representatives and senior party leaders will visit around 10,000 villages and cities, and interact with people. “They will spend time there and try to address their grievances,” she said.

On poll preparations, Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said the party’s core committee is yet to decide on the campaigning for the 2021 elections. Banerjee said that currently she is focussing on the pending “developmental works” in the state.

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On the other hand, the BJP, which is running a massive nationwide membership drive, finds TMC’s outreach campaign to be a “damage control measure”.

Speaking to The Federal, BJYM state secretary Aroon Shah said, “The outreach programme is a damage control measure. They are following the BJP’s ‘Vistarak’ programme, but it will not help them.”

The BJP membership drive, which started on July 6, is aimed at enrolling one crore members in West Bengal. BJP’s state general secretary Sayantan Basu told The Federal that the party has already achieved half its target. “So far, over 50 lakh new members have been registered and we will soon achieve our one crore target,” Basu said.

Meanwhile, reports have been the doing rounds that political analyst Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC has been roped in by Trinamool for the 2021 elections. But, the BJP doesn’t find it of any threat to its victory in the Assembly polls.

“The people of Bengal have chosen us (in the Lok Sabha elections) and they will choose us again. Prashant Kishor will earn money and go back,” said Basu.

In an unprecedented victory in the general elections, the BJP won a record 18 seats in the state, bagging several of Trinamool strongholds.

Echoing a similar view, Shah said that in the 2014 general elections, when the Narendra Modi-led government came to power, Prashant Kishor played a very limited role and that too in the background, to boost BJP’s campaigning.

He also alleged that a nexus between the TMC, the Left and the Congress is very imminent, since the ruling party is facing decimation in the state.

“The TMC and the Congress have always been united. And, now the TMC has no other option left but to unite with the CPI(M),” he said, adding that the Chief Minister has started developing a soft corner for “naxals and urban naxals”.