No ‘outsider’ campaigners for BJP candidates in Kolkata civic polls

By Express News Service

KOLKATA:  Facing discontent over the roping in of Union ministers and leaders from other states in the Kolkata municipal corporation, the BJP high-command took a U-turn and decided to withdraw such campaigners. 

Political observers attribute the BJP’s U-turn to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s aggressive pitch of branding the saffron camp as a party of ‘‘outsiders’’ in the run up to the Bengal polls. Discontent in the state unit spread after the party brass rope in Union ministers and star leaders, including Smriti Irani, Manoj Tiwari and Giriraj Singh, as star campaigners for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election.

‘‘We opposed the decision because visit of such leaders did not secure any electoral dividend in the recent Assembly polls. Instead, it handed over a political tool to Mamata to attack us. She relentlessly continued branding our party as an outfit of outsiders which resulted consolidation of Bengali electorates against us to some extent,’’ said a BJP leader.

The BJP leadership has decided to engage party functionaries and prominent faces of Bengal to participate in the campaigns. ‘‘ This is the lowest rung of elections in the existing electoral exercise. The faces of local party functionaries should be roped in. Because, they know the political issues, which may give us dividend, like the back of their hand, not the leaders from Bihar, UP or Bihar,’’ said the leader.  For the Bengal poll, the BJP had fielded heavyweights Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, and Yogi Adityanath but it did not help the party.