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regular-article-logo Thursday, 25 April 2024

BJP eyes electoral mileage in Sandeshkhali, focus on wooing women voters ahead of LS polls

Former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was fielded by the party on Wednesday to joust with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Prasad accused the chief minister of wreaking 'atrocities on women' and warned she would 'have to pay for it'

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 22.02.24, 05:15 AM
Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad Sourced by the Telegraph

The BJP is eyeing electoral mileage in the Sandeshkhali ripples at the highest level.

Former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was fielded by the party on Wednesday to joust with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Prasad accused the chief minister of wreaking “atrocities on women” and warned she would “have to pay for it”.

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The attack on Mamata from the central party came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to visit Bengal early next month and address a rally; he plans to focus on wooing the women voters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

“The atrocities against women in Sandeshkhali represent the pinnacle of wretchedness for any civilised society but Mamata Banerjee’s conscience seems to be nonexistent. She is still defending it. Why?” Prasad asked at a media address.

“Mamataji, you will have to pay for it,” Prasad added, stressing that the “people will reply during the polls”.

Prasad targeting Mamata was seen as an effort by the central BJP to lend full support to the Bengal party, hoping the Sandeshkhali issue would earn electoral dividends in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP had won 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in the last Lok Sabha polls and the party leadership feels they need a potent poll issue to maintain the tally, if not also increase it to fulfill Modi’s cry of “Abki baar 400 paar”. The BJP is said to be targeting 25 Bengal Lok Sabha seats.

Party leaders said they can’t hope to better their tally from Bengal unless they manage to wean away women voters in large numbers from Trinamul. Mamata has used women-centric welfare schemes of her government to carve out a strong base among women. In Sandeshkhali, they see an opportunity for making a breach.

Modi is expected to address a “women’s rally” in Barasat, when he visits Bengal, most likely in early March, and go all out against Mamata using the Sandeshkhali issue. The victims of alleged sexual assault from Sandeshkhali are likely to be ferried to Modi’s rally by the party.

“To save her political credibility Mamata Banerjee is risking the honour of women. As a woman chief minister, she is using police power to suppress women,” Prasad alleged.

Prasad also used the issue to target the wider Opposition, the INDIA bloc. “Why is Rahul Gandhi silent on atrocities on women in Sandeshkhali? Why is Sonia Gandhi silent? Why is the CPM not issuing any official statement? Why is Arvind Kejriwal silent?” Prasad asked, contrasting the Opposition’s uproar over the Supreme Court ruling on the Chandigarh mayoral polls. “All of them (Opposition leaders) gave lectures on the Chandigarh issue but on the dignity of hundreds of women they are silent,” he added.

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