BJP shortlists about 10 ‘winnable seats’ in Mamata Banerjee backyards
West Bengal

BJP shortlists about 10 ‘winnable seats’ in Mamata Banerjee backyards

Agency News

New Delhi, Mar 10: It's election season and hence all kinds of permutations and combinations are on. Banking on a perceived 'anti-incumbency' sentiment against Mamata Banerjee and 'pro Narendra Modi factor', the BJP poll strategists for West Bengal have shortlisted at least names of 10 seats they feel the saffron party will sail through.

"To touch double digits will be a great achievement in West Bengal but our target remains 22 plus," a party leader said. “The saffron party is already reaching out to prominent faces and in days to come will see a number of key Trinamool Congress leaders desert Mamata Banerjee camp. Among the film stars veteran Biswajeet Chatterjee and Moushumi Chatterjee have already joined the BJP,” he added.

Nothing has been indicated yet about their parliamentary seats. The party feels it can win at least 10 seats in this year's polls. Two of them it wrested in 2014 - Asansol represented by Union Minister Babul Supriyo and Darjeeling - also represented by another Union Minister and senior parliamentarian S S Ahluwalia.

For Bishnupur parliamentary seat, the saffron party in all likelihood will field the incumbent lawmaker Saumitra Khan, a former Trinamool leader who lately joined the BJP.

Another sitting Trinamool MP Anupam Hazra may join the saffron party and also contest from the Bolpur seat. Mr Hazra has already been expelled by the Trinamool leadership.

Trinamool leader Baisakhi Banerjee, an associate of senior party leader Sovan Chatterjee, too may join BJP. The saffron outfit proposes to field Ms Banerjee against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee from the Diamond Harbour seat.

The BJP leadership is now eyeing seats like Barasat too - onetime a strong bastion of Trinamool - wherein sitting MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar may face stiff fight if her party colleague and mayor of Bidhannagar Municipality Sabyasachi Dutta shifts to the saffron party camp.

"Mr Dutta has been once very close to Mukul Roy and both the leaders had already met more than once," a source said. Among other constituencies, the BJP is eyeing Bangaon Lok Sabha seat which has substantial Motua population and onetime 'refugee people' from Bangladesh. The Modi government's Citizenship Amendment Bill was perhaps aimed at these sections of voters only, observers say.

"The circumstances under which the Bill could not get through will go against Trinamool Congress and CPI(M)," a party source said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Thakurnagar on February 2 and tried to woo the local electorate here.

The BJP is also hopeful about Medinipur Lok Sabha seat. It has seven assembly segments and one of them - Kharagpur already has BJP legislator in state unit president Dilip Ghosh. Indications are that Mr Ghosh will try to fight it out here against sitting Trinamool MP and yesteryear's actress Sandhya Roy.

The BJP is also eyeing seats like Alipurdwar and Coachbehar in North Bengal where BJP's organisational base has enhanced in last few years.

In Coachbehar even in 2014 - BJP had emerged as second force. But the victory margin was huge.

Trinamool sitting MP Partha Pratim Ray had polled 7,94,375 votes while BJP's Hem Chandra Barman - who finished second - could poll only 381,134 making it only 28.30 percent of vote share.

In another key seat where the saffron party did well in the region but lost marginally was Raiganj. The BJP nominee polled18 per cent votes here but lost the seat to Mohammad Salim of CPI(M) - who had polled 19.5 per cent votes.

The victory margin for Mr Salim was mere 1634 votes and analysts say good performance by the BJP had made CPI-M’s task easier to win the seat. The name of BJP Youth Wing chief in the state Debjit Sarkar is reportedly being considered for Raiganj Lok Sabha seat.

In 2014, BJP nominee Nimu Bhowmick had finished third, bagging 2,03,131 votes as against 3,17,515 by Mr Salim and 315,881 by Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi. Congress has announced not to field any candidate this time with the idea to help CPI(M) win the seat.

Another important seat, BJP is set to give good contest is Balurghat. In 2014, the party's vote share in the constituency was about 21 percent.

BJP is also eyeing to wrest Krishnanagar, which has been represented by Tapas Pal of Trinamool Congress. BJP sources say there are more reasons than one for voters in the area to have got disillusioned with actor turned politician Tapas Pal. He also got jailed for his alleged involvement in chit fund scam.

The BJP could field senior local leader Satyabrata Mukherjee but whether Mamata Banerjee's party will field Tapas Pal or not remains to be seen.

Among the Kolkata seats, BJP is hopeful of winning Kolkata Uttar constituency which at present is being represented by senior Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.UNI