Kolkata, 27 Jan, Sujoy Dhar: The Narendra Modi wave seems to have reached the Bengal shores, indicated by the more than two-fold increase in the membership of the BJP’s state unit. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in West Bengal claimed that the total membership has increased from three lakh in 2011 to more than seven lakh in 2013 but it is not verified from any reliable source.
Two lakh new members have enrolled in the last six months, which party leaders have attributed to Modi’s anointment as the prime ministerial candidate. The ABVP, youth wing of the BJP, too witnessed a surge in its membership with the enrolment of 45,000 new activists in the last one year, BJP spokesperson and co-in-charge of the party’s Bengal unit Siddhinath Singh told PTI.
He further claimed that the BJP’s minority and women’s wings too witnessed a 50 per cent jump in membership. Singh said, “Two factors are responsible for the expanding BJP membership in West Bengal: Declaration of Modi as PM candidate by the party and the lack of an opposition worth the name in the state.”
The senior BJP leader noted that such enthusiasm had previously been witnessed on two occasions. First, during the Ram Mandir agitation in the early 90s and during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule at the Centre. “The charisma of Modi working in the entire country is also having its impact in Bengal and we will prove it during Modi’s rally in Kolkata on February 5,” Singh asserted.
The BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have traditionally never been able to make much of an impact in West Bengal, though the party’s former avatar Jan Sangh was co-founded by the son of the soil, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
The 27 per cent Muslim community in the state, which wields a considerable influence in at least 140 Assembly constituencies out of 294, plays a key role in the power sweepstake, courted aggresively by all frontline political parties.