BJP eyes its own 'Nandigram' in former Maoist zone

BJP protest BJP women activists in Kolkata protesting against the alleged killing of party workers in Purulia | PTI

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh is aiming to make Purulia to be what Nandigram was for TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee—a springboard to capture political power. BJP chief Amit Shah is also due to visit the districts of Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore later this month.

The BJP in the last panchayat election won more than 60 per cent seats of the panchayats in these districts, which are collectively known as Junglemahal in West Bengal and which were earlier 'infested' by Maoists.

Interestingly, after operation green hunts uprooted the Maoists from the region, BJP has projected itself as the friends of tribals in place of Maoists. The defeat of the Trinamool Congress in panchayat polls owes to a large degree to the high level of dissatisfaction in the tribal community with the Banerjee government.

The recent deaths of two BJP workers in Purulia had raised eyebrows. Their bodies were found hanging outside their houses. One of the victims was 18 years old and paper pieces were found affixed to his back, which stated he was punished for supporting the BJP at a young age. The other victim was found hanging from a high-tension wire. Both the deaths took place in a single locality of Purulia, Balarampur, where the TMC suffered a bad defeat in the panchayat election. The BJP raised doubts about claims the two victims committed suicide, asking why would they choose a public place to end their lives.

Ghosh on Tuesday visited Purulia and declared Shah would start his 'Bengal mission' from the three Junglemahal districts.

Seeking to boost the morale of his party workers, Ghosh said, “Protect yourself with whatever you have. Even if police come to arrest you without any warrant, then tie them around the tree.”

Ghosh has asked the people in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore to not let Trinamool Congress workers sneak into the village. He described Balarampur as an “opposition-free” area.

“To say opposition free, I wanted to mean the region is free of Trinamool Congress,” Ghosh said.

Shah is expected to visit the houses of the deceased BJP workers and would also address the gathering of party workers and supporters.

The BJP is attempting to spread tribal unrest in West Bengal across the state, especially North Bengal where large number of tribals reside. It’s all set to take up an indigenous movement in North Bengal, quite similar to what it has done in Assam, by supporting the Assam Students’ Union’s demand of acting on National Registrar of Citizen.

It remains to be seen whether the saffron party’s attempt to spread its success in Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore to other parts of the state becomes successful or not.

However, Banerjee has also strengthened her party’s position in North Bengal by 'taking over' the entire Congress party leadership and workers in North Bengal. Congress used to be stronger in North Bengal than South Bengal during the time of left rule.

What was left as a sole concession of the party, the Malda family raj of Ghani Khan Chowdhury, former Congress strongman known as Barkat da, also succumbed in recent election, with TMC winning maximum seats in panchayats and other byelections, with BJP coming a close second.

The days to come would not only see the fight between TMC and BJP in Bengal but also decide whether this famous fortress of Congress crumbles or not.

Khan Chowdhury’s brother Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, Malda North MP, said come what may, he would remain a Congressman.

“I was a born Congressman and would die so like my elder brother,” said he.