There is a growing acceptance for the BJP among the masses in West Bengal as an alternative to the ruling TMC but the party has to address organisational issues in some areas, as per two internal surveys.
The saffron party, which aims to unseat Mamata Banerjee's TMC from power in next year's assembly elections, had engaged two agencies to conduct separate surveys in 78,000 booths in the state to gauge people's mood, assess the strengths and weaknesses of both the BJP and its rivals and winnability of its candidates, sources privy to the development said on Monday.
The party has commissioned another similar survey that will begin by the end of this month, they said.
The findings of the previous surveys, conducted in 2019-end and July, have been tabled before the BJP top brass. This will be vital in preparing the party's strategy for the assembly polls due in April-May next year, they added.
The second survey has found that corruption charges levelled against the TMC in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan have changed the ground realities more in favour of the BJP, the sources said.
"Although there was a wave of support for the BJP in last year's Lok Sabha elections, parliamentary and assembly elections are different ball games and we don't want to take chances. So, the surveys were conducted to assess the ground realities," a BJP central leader said.
The party's central unit had appointed the agencies and only a few state BJP leaders were aware of it. The party had conducted similar surveys before the Lok Sabha elections, he said.
Post-Lok Sabha elections, the surveys were conducted on the strengths and weakness of the party and its rivals in an area, issues the masses were concerned about, and policies of the state government, he said.
After having a limited presence in the politically polarised state for decades, the BJP has emerged as the main rival of the Trinamool Congress, winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the 2019 general elections.
The saffron party had secured 40.5 per cent votes and was ahead in more than 125 of the 294 assembly seats in the state.
The BJP is eyeing to win more than 220 seats in next year's elections.
Both the surveys were very optimistic about the BJP's prospects in the next assembly elections, the party's central leader said.
"The surveys have pointed out that there is growing resentment against the TMC government's 10-year rule and the BJP, which is now the prime opposition in the state, is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of this resentment.
"However, we need to address organisational weakness in some areas and infighting among certain sections. But we are confident of plugging those gaps and ousting the TMC from power in the assembly elections," he said.
The survey reports will be of immense importance for candidate selection as they will name the most popular leaders with the highest chance of winning, another BJP leader said.
"For example, of the 294 constituencies, if the names are unanimous in 150 seats in both the surveys, it is quite obvious they will get the tickets if there are no major changes," he said.
Apart from these three surveys, the party will collect reports from all the district units on the ground realities. All the four reports will be compiled and will reflect while preparing the manifesto, candidates and election issues, he said.
"Our party conducts such surveys from time to time. I can't divulge further details," BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh said.
With assembly elections just six months away, the infighting in the BJP's state unit has forced the central leadership to step in time and again to call a truce so that the squabbling doesn't become the Achilles' heel for the party in the polls, party sources said.
The infighting is mainly between the old guards of the state unit who are unwilling to cede their positions to new entrants from other parties, especially the TMC, who are fighting for space in the BJP, a senior party leader said.
"More than being an individual conflict, it is a clash of ideologies. The old guard feels that the party will grow on its own strength and inducting leaders from other parties will dilute its core ideological orientation.
"The new entrants, on the other hand, feel that if the BJP wants to grow, it has to accept leaders from other parties and make working space for them in the party," he said.
Ghosh, however, said it is a "trivial matter", which can be sorted out through dialogue.
"We are a big family so these are trivial matters which can be solved through dialogue and discussions," he said.
The TMC, however, mocked the surveys and said all their efforts will go in vain as the BJP lacks a mass leader like Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.
"All these surveys will fall flat on their faces as Mamata Banerjee is still the most popular mass leader in the state and the BJP doesn't have anyone to match her mass appeal," TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.