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Mamata focus on BJP

Murshidabad, March 20: Mamata Banerjee today took care to explain the “threat” posed by the BJP, the focus on the party at a Trinamul workers’ meeting in Murshidabad betraying her apprehensions about the possible impact of the Narendra Modi factor on the four-cornered Lok Sabha poll battle.

“I am against the BJP. The BJP is communal. They want to divide Bengal,” the chief minister said at the Astabal grounds near Hazarduari.

The gathering had been billed as a workers’ meeting but the 20,000-plus turnout gave it the look and feel of a public meeting. Mamata used the opportunity to attack the BJP, which till now has been a marginal force with a vote share of around 6 per cent in Bengal.

But the equations can change this time as the BJP is expected to fare better this time because of the nationwide wave in favour of Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Although it cannot be predicted that the BJP will eat into Trinamul’s vote share, the uncertainty over how Modi’s party will fare in Bengal, which will witness a four-cornered Lok Sabha poll fight for the first time, has become a topic of discussion in Trinamul ranks.

Trinamul sources said the party could face a difficult battle. Mamata’s speech today, the sources said, was aimed at a wider audience, not merely the gathering in Murshidabad.

“The vote shares could swing either way in some seats in a four-cornered fight. Tie-ups had worked in our favour in the past,” a Trinamul leader said.

During her 50-minute speech, Mamata explained to party workers why they should concentrate on the BJP while campaigning.

The Trinamul sources said the Jangipur bypoll in 2012 must have been playing on the chief minister’s mind as she was in Murshidabad. The BJP had got over 10 per cent votes in the bypoll, around 6 per cent more than what it had got in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The impact of the rise in the vote share of the BJP and some identity-based parties brought down the Congress’s victory margin to 2,536 votes from 128,000 in 2009.