“Secretly, we are preparing to snatch the very ground from under the last strand of the grassroots in West Bengal,” says a BJP worker in the state’s South 24 Paraganas district. The “grassroots”, of course, is a reference to Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool. The “secret” strategy is part of a masterplan devised by BJP chief Amit Shah in May aimed at dominating Bengal and to be implemented over the next three years. According to the BJP worker, the plan envisages sending party workers to “each and every corner, not missing even a nook and cranny”, with “area-specific” strategies based on identifying the demands and needs of the constituents and then ensuring these are addressed.
“Making a dent in the Muslim vote has been difficult so far and we have been instructed to instill trust in the community,” says the worker. Shah’s strategy may be working—in elections to seven civic bodies in August, the BJP left the Congress and the Left Front behind to become the number two party after the Trinamool, which won 140 of the total 148 wards. It won six wards that used to be Left or Congress strongholds, while the CPI(M) and the Congress drew a blank.