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BJP will emerge kingmaker in Bengal: State party chief Dilip Ghosh

By Ians

Kolkata, April 29: Eyeing double-digit number of seats in the ongoing West Bengal assembly polls, the BJP is hoping to play the role of a kingmaker once the results are out on May 19, asserts its Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh.

Notwithstanding factionalism, organisational deficiency and dipping electoral fortunes after its splendid performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Ghosh - who took over the reins last December -- insists the BJP has left behind its tag of an "also ran" in Bengal.

[Special Coverage: Assembly Elections 2016]

Dilip Ghosh

"It's a fact that BJP was never in the reckoning in Bengal. But moving from strength to strength we're in a position of reckoning now. There is no doubt BJP will emerge as the deciding factor. We will be the kingmaker. We're confident of getting double-digit seats," Ghosh told IANS in an interview.

When it was pointed out that double-digit could mean anything between 10 and 99 in the 294-member assembly, Ghosh shot back: "That depends on one's perception. For you it can be 10, for us it can be 99, or, may be, even more. We are confident of a good showing."

Traditionally considered weak in the state, the BJP came up with a surprisingly inspiring performance in the 2014 general elections. Besides winning two seats -- Darjeeling and Asansol-- its vote-share leapfrogged to 16.8 percent against around six percent in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the measly four percent it got in the assembly polls two years later.

Months after the 2014 general elections, the BJP won its only seat in the present assembly in a by-poll when Samik Bhattacharya wrested Basirhat (South) from the CPI-M. The assembly success came 15 long years after its only other legislator in the state's history - Badal Bhattacharya - won from Ashokenagar, also in a by-poll.

However, the BJP failed to retain the momentum and suffered reverses in the state's civic polls last year, when it could not take control of a single municipal body. Even in the metropolis, it could win only seven of the 144 wards in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Crediting the 2014 performance to the "wave" surrounding its then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Ghosh admitted that "organisational deficiencies" led to the decline in its electoral fortunes.

"It was the Modi wave that carried us forward and we couldn't hold on to that lead because of our organisational deficiencies," said the 52-year-old contesting from Kharagpur Sadar constituency in West Midnapore district.

"But over the past one year, our focus has been on developing our organisation at the grassroots and strengthening it across the state. The results are already visible. People have started accepting us as the only alternative," Ghosh added.

Even as he spoke of the BJP playing a decisive role in government formation, Ghosh remained evasive on whether in case of a hung assembly, it will support the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress or the CPI-M-led Left Front and the Congress which have forged a tie-up.

"Whether we support others and form the government or stay as the opposition can only be decided when we arrive at such a situation," Ghosh maintained.

During the campaign, the BJP's star campaigners, including Modi and party chief Amit Shah, have been scathing in their attack on both the Trinamool and the Left-Congress combine.

But Ghosh insists the fight is between development and destruction.

"The election is not about BJP fighting its political opponents, the fight is development versus the destruction which the Congress, Left and the Trinamool have unleashed on Bengal during their respective regimes.

"The fight is to provide an alternative that the people of Bengal have been yearning for decades now, having suffered at the hands of the Congress, Left Front and now Trinamool," he maintained.

Dismissing the Left-Congress' refrain of a "Modi-Mamata" understanding, Ghosh alleged there was bonhomie between the trio of Trinamool, Left and the Congress.

"If there is no bonhomie, then why hasn't the Narada sting been sent to the ethics committee in the Rajya Sabha yet? They have the majority there.

"In the Lok Sabha, we have the majority and the matter was sent to ethics committee as soon as it came out," said Ghosh, referring to a sting operation by Narada News in which several top Trinamool leaders have been purportedly seen accepting bribes.

Ghosh also said his image as an "RSS man, more than a politician", has helped in strengthening the organisation at the grassroots and asserted there is no dissent or factionalism.

"The RSS is synonymous with nationalism and acts as a binding force. In a democracy, there can be dissenting voices, there can be arguments but that cannot be termed factionalism," Ghosh contended.


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