BJP will get Muslim votes in Bengal: Dilip Ghosh

BJP president Amit Shah flashes the victory sign as West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh looks on, during a public rally in Kolkata im 2018. PTI

He is known to be a maverick politician, one who never bothers with mincing his words. BJP state president in West Bengal Dilip Ghosh speaks to Soumya Das of DH.

How confident is the state BJP of achieving the target set by party president Amit Shah of winning 23 seats?

We are definitely hopeful of achieving the target and are setting our strategy accordingly. Earlier, political pundits did not even consider us capable of winning one Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal. Now, several survey results are showing that we can win 10 to 11 seats in the state and the number is increasing.

There has been severe discontent within the BJP over candidate selection in West Bengal. How are you handling it?

BJP is going through a special phase in West Bengal. It has expanded in the state over the last two to three years. Several new leaders from other parties have joined BJP and some have been made candidates. In such a situation, some misunderstanding may have taken place among party workers. Now it has been largely resolved. 

There is 28% Muslim population in West Bengal. How hopeful is the BJP of getting Muslim votes in the state?

There is an impression that Muslims vote en masse for a certain party in West Bengal and they have actually done it to some extent. Often they are driven by religious leaders. Opposition parties have tried to label the BJP as anti-Muslim. But the Muslims of West Bengal are smart enough to understand the reality. 

The Opposition (TMC, Left Front and Congress) have ruled the state till now and it is during this time Muslims in Bengal have lagged behind. They have seen how BJP has ushered in development in other states where it is in power. Moreover, two of our Muslim candidates who have joined other parties are very popular minority leaders and will play a key role in getting the Muslim community’s support for BJP. 

The wrong impression about BJP among Muslims is also changing. The fear among Muslim women about triple talaq has also decreased with the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill. All these have made us confident of getting Muslim votes in Bengal.

Will the BJP highlight NRC and Triple Talaq Bill in campaigning in Bengal?

We will definitely do so. These are courageous decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We will clear all misunderstanding among people about the decisions during campaigning. 

Can Mamata Banerjee be a key rival of Narendra Modi?

Narendra Modi is a leader of international acclaim while Mamata Banerjee is only a state-level leader. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has no presence outside West Bengal. Moreover, a large section of voters who voted her to power in the 2011 Assembly elections have now gone against her. Even women and Muslims have lost their faith in Mamata. 

Are you confident of winning from the Medinipur Lok Sabha seat? 

When I won from the Kharagpur Sadar Assembly seat in the 2016 Assembly elections, I had become state president barely a few months ago. I had very little experience in politics and our organisation was very weak at that time. This time I did not want to contest as I needed to focus on party organisation. But the party leadership again kept their faith in me and so I am contesting.

My rival TMC’s Manash Bhunia is a far more experienced politician than me. But having changed parties several times may go against him. I am confident of winning this time.

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BJP will get Muslim votes in Bengal: Dilip Ghosh

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