With a pro-BJP air gaining ground, after Narendra Modi was named party’s prime ministerial candidate, the party’s West Bengal headquarters at Murlidhar Lane in central Kolkata is now witnessing a mad rush of people seeking tickets for Lok Sabha elections.
For 42 Lok Sabha seats in state, 230 people — eight of them Muslims — have sent applications seeking to be named a BJP nominee.
Incidentally, these individuals are apart from the party members whose names will be soon proposed by the BJP’s district offices.
In 2009, altogether 70 people applied for BJP ticket. However, the party, which garnered 26 lakh votes, could not win a single seat. The last time the party won two Lok Sabha seats was in 1999 when it won from Dum Dum and Krishnanagar constituencies.
This time the party has set a target of at least five LS seats and 15 per cent of vote share from the state.
“People have understood that (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee cannot give them the alternative that they were looking for. They know that a change is going to come about at the Centre and they want to become stakeholders in the new dispensation,” Varun Gandhi, BJP general secretary in charge of West Bengal told The Indian Express over phone.
Siddharth Nath Singh, another party general secretary in charge of the state, echoed Varun. “We have not seen such groundswell of support in West Bengal before. The number of applications that we have received is phenomenal. Many people met me in Delhi also. It shows their attachment for the party and also for Modiji because they believe he is the man who can lead the country,” Singh, said.
Singh said that the names of candidates will be shortlisted in Januaryf. Already people like Bikram Sarker, a former TMC MP from Panskura in East Midnapore, has been inducted and will be fielded as a BJP candidate.
BJP leaders are enthusiastic. “The numbers may reach 5,000. We are overwhelmed. There are doctors, engineers, advocates, retired judges, who are vying for party ticket,” Rahul Sinha, BJP state unit president, said.
The state unit is now scanning the applications and checking the applicants’ background. “We are preparing a data pool and we will call these people for interview,” said a party source.
Amit Shah to kick off campaign
BJP general secretary Amit Shah will kick off party’s Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal on November 30 with a rally at Rani Rashmoni Road