The Bharatiya Janata Party has classified each of West Bengal’s 294 constituencies into one of three categories, A, B, and C, depending on the nature of the contest, according to six BJP leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity. A refers to an easy win, B, a contest, and C, a very tough contest. Nandigram, where Trinamool Congress leader and chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking on Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP is in category B, HT learns.
On record, however, the BJP says none of the 294 seats is difficult. “It is the first time our party has gone to 80,000 of the total 100,000 polling booths that we have across the state. We have classified them, but it is our internal preparation. It is our strategy but we hope that people will vote for us whichever category the constituency is,” said Kailash Vijayvargiya, national general secretary in charge of Bengal. Home minister Amit Shah has repeatedly said the BJP will win at least 200 seats. When asked specifically about CM’s constituency, Vijayvargiya said “Nandigram is in A category.”
The categorisation has been done by top BJP strategists , and the list itself is with only some of the party’s top leaders and campaigners, HT has learnt.
One of the people cited in the first instance said that while Nandigram looks like a contest, “the BJP may be slightly ahead.”
Similarly, Tollygunge, where Union minister Babul Supriyo is fighting from is also in category B, the people added.
Supriyo acknowledged that he has been given a tough seat, but added that he is confident of winning. “It is a serious but also a ground zero assessment of the organisation in terms of the constituencies which need extra support,’’ he said of his constituency’s categorisation.
So which are the toughest or category C seats for the BJP? The internal survey says that these are the constituencies mostly in South Bengal — Swarupnagar, Baranagar, Basanti, Jagatballavpur, Khandagosh, Murarai, Nalgoti and Manbazar — that are dominated by the TMC.
Most of the headline-grabbing constituencies, however, are in Category B. Other than Nandigram, Sitai, Moyna, Raipur, Kotulpur, Indas, Galsi, Katwa, Memari, and even Tarkeshwar, where former Rajya Sabha MP and journalist Swapan Dasgupta is fighting from, are all in this category. “I cannot comment on this because I have never come across such a survey,’’ said Dasgupta when contacted by HT.
The easiest, or category A, seats for BJP include Onda, Bishnupur, Asansol (dakshin) , Para, Joypur, Shibpur, Khejuri, Medinipur, Howrah Uttar. Other than Howrah, they are mostly in the Western parts of the state.
“We are winning Bengal. We have won Nandigram. The only Union minister contesting here will lose,” said Derek O’ Brien, TMCs leader in the Rajya Sabha.
“In the western districts of Bengal, the BJP did better in 2019, so they classify them as easier seats to win. In southern and eastern Bengal, despite several charges of corruption against TMC, it has organisational presence so the BJP will face opposition from certain demographics,” said Dwaipayan Bhattacharya, professor for political science at JNU, explaining the logic behind the categorisation.