Asansol MP Babul Supriyo at the BJP headquarters in Calcutta. Picture by Ranjit Nandy
Calcutta, May 17: The usually somnolent Bengal BJP headquarters in Calcutta sprang to life today as party functionaries came in droves to get a sense of the road ahead in the aftermath of the party’s best-ever performance in the state in terms of vote share.
The humble two-storey office on Muralidhar Sen Lane, off Central Avenue, wore a fresh look today with new portraits of Narendra Modi, L.K. Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shyamaprasad Mookerjee finding pride of place on the walls.
Enthusiastic BJP supporters came from across the state to meet party leaders a day after the BJP won two Lok Sabha seats and bagged nearly 18 per cent of the votes polled.
If post-poll analysis was the refrain at a huddle of party workers near the gate, the leaders were seen informally discussing the challenges ahead outside the chamber of state unit president Rahul Sinha.
Sinha, who came second to Trinamul’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay in the Calcutta North seat, was closeted with senior leaders from the districts in the conference room.
“We have decided to divide the 141 wards in Calcutta into four zones for the civic polls next year and put each zone under the supervision of a leader,” Sinha told reporters.
“Their job will be to nurture these zones ward-wise. This will be our preparation or the elections.”
The BJP has decided to concentrate on the civic polls, encouraged by the Lok Sabha performances of Sinha and Tathagata Roy, who contested the Calcutta South seat.
Like Sinha, Roy came second, securing 25.28 per cent of the votes. Sinha polled 25.7 per cent.
“We shall work on similar lines for the Asansol and Siliguri civic body polls (in July). State secretary Biswapriya Roychowdhury has been told to oversee the poll preparations in Siliguri,” Sinha said.
The state BJP has decided to take “special measures” in the urban and semi-urban Assembly segments across the state where the party’s vote share has jumped in the Lok Sabha polls.
At the party headquarters today, leaders tried to figure out how BJP candidates had garnered over 20 per cent of the votes in some rural segments such as Phansidewa in Alipurduar, where the party had failed to appoint polling agents.
“There is a genuine surge in support for us in Bengal. Even apolitical people cast their votes in our favour. We need to take immediate steps to induct these enthusiasts into the party fold and strengthen the organisation,” a BJP vice-president said.
The BJP had seen a spike in support in Bengal in the 1998 and 1999 general elections too, but the voters’ interest waned in the absence of a sustained effort by the state leadership to strengthen the network.
“We should introspect why we won only two seats in Bengal despite the Narendra Modi wave,” a BJP leader said.
He added that the party had failed to perform to its potential primarily because of poor candidate selection and some of the nominees’ lack of effort in exploiting the “Modi wave”.
Sinha, however, cited a different reason. “We would have bagged at least 12 seats in Bengal had there not been rigging and booth capturing,” he said.