An architect of the party’s rise in Bengal, Mr. Vijayvargiya says the State has seen setbacks in all sectors under Left and Trinamool rule
Kailash Vijayvargiya, national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been the party’s observer for West Bengal for the past six years. He is considered one of the architects of the BJP’s meteoric rise in West Bengal. From a party that got 10.18% votes in 2016 to 40.3% in 2019, the BJP under Mr. Vijayvargiya has emerged as the main Opposition force in the State, and claims to have a chance of coming to power in Bengal. Mr. Vijayvargiya spoke to The Hindu’s correspondent Shiv Sahay Singh on the BJP’s prospects and challenges in the forthcoming Assembly polls.
Where does the BJP stand in West Bengal in the the run-up to Assembly polls?
The BJP is all set to form the next government in West Bengal. People of West Bengal are going to choose between two governments — one at the Centre and the other in the State. The people are also aware that there are two different leadership models at the Centre and at the State. On one side there is the leadership of Narendra Modi, where in the past six years not a single Minister has been accused of any corruption. The schemes of the Centre are reaching beneficiaries with transparency. There are no middlemen in the implementation of these schemes and complete transparency is maintained. On the other hand, we see the way the State government schemes are riddled with corruption and everywhere there are syndicates operating. People in West Bengal have to give commission for availing benefits of every scheme.
When did you realise that the BJP could emerge as an important force in West Bengal?
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP got 17% votes. This gave us the impression that people of the State were ready to support the BJP provided we could present the party as an alternative to the people of the State. Since then, we ran a number of campaigns by asking people to associate with us through missed call numbers. The lists were screened and we started adding more and more beneficiaries. In the 2018 panchayat election in West Bengal, people were not allowed to contest and exercise their franchise and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the anger of the people was reflected when the BJP won 18 of the 42 seats.
The Trinamool Congress claims that it has ushered in overall development in the State.
What kind of development? Can Mamata-ji give one example of what she has achieved in Bengal? The State government has not been able to showcase its achievement in the past two terms.
Before independence, Bengal was one of the most prosperous States in the country. Today, it is among the backward States. From the Left regime to the Trinamool Congress regime, Bengal has only seen setbacks in all sectors. In the 1970s, Bengal accounted for 24.8% of the industrial output in the country and today it stands at a meagre 2.3%. Along with different spheres of cultural activity, West Bengal has made a contribution in the field of spirituality with figures like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. But today, their followers are not feeling safe.
There has been a politicisation of bureaucracy and the police administration, who are hand in glove with the criminals and mafia. What has happened in the past 10 years is a syndicate raj, goonda raj and mafia raj. We have to keep in mind that West Bengal is a border State and crucial to internal security. A huge danger is also posed by illegal infiltration. There is enough evidence to prove that cattle smuggling continues.
It is being said that the BJP has used defections as a political tool and now that many Trinamool Congress leaders are with the BJP, the party has become the TMC’s B-team.
When a river merges with the sea, the river loses its identity and becomes a part of the sea. The BJP is the biggest party in the world and those joining the BJP are becoming a part of the party. Those joining have to contribute to the party. Mukul-da was the second most important person in the Trinamool Congress when he joined the BJP. In the initial days, he was sitting in the second row, not in the first row. The same has been the case with other leaders who joined us.
What alternative is the BJP offering? What do you mean when you say the BJP will make the State ‘Sonar Bangla’ (golden Bengal)?
West Bengal has immense potential in every sector. There is immense scope of industrial growth. After Mamata-ji drove away the Tatas from the Singur, no industrialist has dared to invest in the State. We are promising industrial growth and upgrade of infrastructure and quality education. West Bengal has access to the sea and the ports here can be utilised to their optimum capacity. There are also coal mines here. We have everything in the State, from skilled manpower to locational advantage. What is lacking is political will. Another issue that we are going to ensure is to enforce the sanctity of borders and stop all illegal activity. In 2011, people voted the Trinamool Congress to power because they wanted to remove the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist). Today, the people of the State want development and therefore there is such a support for the BJP. People of West Bengal know that development can only be ushered in under the leadership of Narendra Modi.