The Bengal unit of the BJP has begun planning activities over the next few months to claim credit for the inscription of Santiniketan on the Unesco World Heritage List.
A source in the state unit of the BJP said that several activities will be carried out in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as the party, which seeks to win the maximum possible number of seats from Bengal, is confident about the political gains from branding the honour as the Centre's "triumph."
"No one can deny the relentless efforts of the Narendra Modi government and its cultural ministry in facilitating this honour for Santiniketan.... It is natural that the party will propagate it claiming success before the people of Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha polls," said a senior BJP leader.
The Unesco's World Heritage Committee on Sunday announced the inclusion of Santiniketan, where Rabindranath Tagore's world university Visva-Bharati is located, in its prestigious list as a heritage site.
"The success actually drills holes into the Trinamul narrative that the BJP has no connection with the culture of the state or it doesn't understand the icons of Bengal.... We will give befitting replies to such campaigns," the BJP leader added.
The fact that the saffron camp had decided to link Modi with the Unesco recognition for Santiniketan was clear in the social media post by Suvendu Adhikari, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
"The Central government worked very hard to earn this global recognition....Also, the day on which this momentous announcement was made, happened to be a very special occasion for the University as well, as it was the Birthday of the Chancellor (Acharya) of the University, the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bharat, Shri @narendramodi ji" Adhikari wrote on his 'X' handle.
While Modi wrote on social media immediately after the announcement that it was a proud moment for all Indians, the saffron ecosystem also wasted no time in linking the honour to his birthday.
Though the BJP sources did not reveal any specifics of its celebration for the Unesco tag, it was learnt that a big bang commemoration plan with Modi as the chief guest was being drawn up.
A source said BJP leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah and national party president J.P. Nadda, who would visit Bengal to campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, would harp on Modi's contribution to ensure this recognition for Santiniketan.
Sabujkoli Sen, former acting vice chancellor of Visva-Bharati who played a role in making the dossier for Santiniketan as a heritage site, said the honour was the result of a "collective effort."
"It was possible following the help of the both state and central government. No individual, political party or organisation can claim the sole credit for the global recognition. This honour is the result of a cumulative and a collective effort," she told The Telegraph.
A source in the Trinamul camp said the party was closely observing the developments surrounding the Unesco tag.
"The chief minister is travelling.... She must be drawing up some plans surrounding Santiniketan, which has a special place in her heart," said the source. "You can be rest assured that she won't let the BJP run away with all the credit."
Mamata, in her congratulatory message on social media from Spain after the Unesco announcement, wrote: "We from the Government of West Bengal have significantly added to its infrastructure in the last 12 years and the world now recognizes the glory of the heritage place."
Several residents of Santiniketan said they did not want a political slugfest over the global recognition.
An old-timer said: "I am worried as the BJP has this trend of trying to grab all credit for any Indian achievement, be it scientific or sporting. We all witnessed how the Chandrayan-3 success was eclipsed by the PM."