Bengal: BJP's members increase by nearly 2 lakh, leaders elated

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Kolkata, June 21: The Bengal unit of the BJP has seen nearly 2 lakh new joinees in the last one-and-half month, sources in the party have said, according to a report published in the Economic Times on Saturday.

The development has come as a surprise to many senior BJP leaders in the state who struggled to increase the saffron party's membership in the state even a couple of years ago. The scenario has changed completely ever since the party, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, emerged as the single largest party in the recently held Lok Sabha election.

The state BJP leadership expect that this fillip will help them produce an extraordinary result in West Bengal in the 2016 assembly elections.

Many senior TMC leaders have also expressed desire to join BJP, it was said.

According to the ET report, the BJP had less than a lakh members in West Bengal in 2010. It rose to 2.67 lakhs after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to power in 2011 and now, it has rocketed to 4.86 lakhs. What has encouraged the leadership more is that people from all walks of life are expressing interest to join the party, which has never been a force in the state politics.

Last week, 40,000 workers from other political parties like the TMC, CPI(M) and Jharkhand Party joined the BJP in the presence of state BJP chief Rahul Sinha who went there for a visit.

Sinha said the maximum number of new members cam from the two Midnapore districts, Burdwan and North 24-Parganas and most of these members have come from the CPI(M), the report said.

The CPI(M) has been the biggest loser as its vote-share has reduced from 33 to 23 per cent from 2009 to 2014 while the BJP's has risen from six to 17 per cent. In many places, CPI(M) supporters have been joining the BJP saying that they doubt whether the party exists anymore and were encouraged to see the BJP's top leadership standing by their local supporters after an attack carried out on them allegedly by TMC-backed goons.

The TMC is not very assured, either. According to the ET report, many TMC leaders from Malda, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri have shown interest to join the BJP. It is not without reason that the TMC chief and the state's Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, asked her arch-rivals, the Left, to take set its own house in order and not allow its supporters to join the BJP.

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