Himanta, Smriti Also on List Loaded with Local Flavor

The Bharatiya Janata Party has put out the names of 20 star campaigners to canvass for the party in the upcoming by-elections in Bengal. One of the seats is Dinhata, which was vacated by Nisith Pramanik to continue as an MP from Cooch Behar and he is now minister of state for home. Three other seats, Santipur (Nadia), Khardah (North 24 Parganas) and Gosaba (South 24 Parganas) will have bypolls on October 30 while counting will be held on November 2.

The BJP star campaigners’ list, which is generally laden with big names from all across the country, this time has focused more on the local leadership. First on the list is the party’s Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar. There’s also his predecessor, Dilip Ghosh, and the BJP’s leader of opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari.

Nisith Pramanik will also be campaigning for the bypolls. Union textiles minister Smriti Irani, who is a fluent Bengali speaker, is also on the list, and so is union minister for rural development Giriraj Singh, who is known for making provocative speeches.

A couple of interesting names that feature among the star campaigners are union minister Pratima Bhowmik who hails from Tripura and is a very fluent Bengali speaker, as well as Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, whose state borders Bengal. Sources say Himanta would be expected to cast his magic spell in Bengal just the way he has delivered the goods for the party in Assam and the rest of the Northeast.

In the recently announced national executive list of the BJP, a number of leaders have been included from Bengal, such as Mithun Chakraborty, Dinesh Trivedi, and Roopa Ganguly. Four ministers from the state, including Nisith Pramanik, Shantanu Thakur, John Barla and Subhas Sarkar, as well as others making it to the list, analysts say, is the BJP’s attempt to signal to its cadres and the people of West Bengal how important the state is to the party. From having just three MLAs in 2016 to winning 77 seats in the 2021 assembly polls, the BJP feels it has come a long way in the eastern state.

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