We first set a 11-seat target for LS polls: Bengal BJP chief

Kolkata, Jan 16 (IANS) How did the BJP set a target of winning over half of the Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal ahead of last year’s general elections?The state party had in fact settled for a very modest target of 11 seats in its initial presentation before the central leadership, and there was utter disbelief and confusion in the party ranks as national President Amit Shah went on to scale up the target.State party chief Dilip Ghosh on Thursday gave an insight into the goings-on in the party organisation in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in April-May last year when the BJP bagged 18 of the 42 seats to record its finest performance in the eastern state.Addressing party functionaries after his unanimous re-election as Bengal party President, Ghosh said the preparations had started after the 2016 Assembly polls.”We had then listed 21 parliamentary constituencies, exactly half of the total seats. We were not at all sure we will win all of them. But we thought we had the capability to fight for victory in these seats.”As we started our work, the organisation grew, and the list went up to 25, then to 27. So we told the central leadership we can win 11 seats in the LS polls,” said Ghosh.”The national President said ‘you have to say the target is 11’. And he said the same in public meetings. Then after a year, he publicly raised the target to 23. Our workers came to me saying ‘how can we achieve it if he increases the target daily’,” said Ghosh.”When we started saying the target will be 23, the journalists asked me how we can even think of getting so many seats. I said we will achieve it. In the end, we won 18. We lost two-three seats by a few votes due to our inexperience,” he said.Recounting the time when he took over as the state party President, Ghosh said that four years back, they could enrol 42 lakh members. “We did not even have booth committees then. But we all tried. Booth committees were formed and their numbers grew.”He then turned to the latest enrolment drive, giving the audience another interesting tale of the party getting nearly one crore members.”This time when I was asked by our central leadership, even before discussing with the party, I said we will get one crore members. I only went by my intuition. Journalists here asked me how you can reach such a figure. I said we will reach our goal. We now have 98 lakh members,” said Ghosh.A long-time pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Ghosh is a comparative newcomer to politics. He was deputed to the BJP by the RSS in 2014, and made a state General Secretary.Then one December morning in 2015, he received a call from Shah.”Ghosh babu, you are being made state party president,” Shah said, and the call got cut before the man in Bengal could even respond.”Then I had less than a year’s experience in politics. I had no idea about the role of the president. During these four years I have tried to understand it. But even before I could understand my role, I was asked to fight the Assembly election in 2016 from Kharagpur and people made me an MLA.”Three years later I became an MP, as I continue to understand the president’s chair,” he said.Saying his party was engaged in a tough duel in Bengal against the might of a “cruel” administration and ruling party, Ghosh said, “We are fighting the battle of Mahabharata, which will end in West Bengal after travelling through other parts of the country. We are all soldiers in this battle,” he added.–IANSssp/arm

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