Monday, November 29, 1999

Trinamool no more at its side, BJP slugs it out alone

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With no alliance on ground, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has plunged into the battle for 81 municipalities and Kolkata Municipal Corporation, fielding candidates in 91 seats in KMC elections as against 23 each in the 2005 and 2000 elections.In the districts, too, the party has fielded 600 candidates as against 400 in the last two elections. Blaming their previous ally, Trinamool Congress, for not being able to expand within the state, the party is again regrouping and reorganising itself under the leadership of a bunch of young leaders — state unit president Rahul Sinha and general secretary Shamik Bhattacharya.To make its presence felt, the party has roped in some big names like Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, Hema Malini and Navjot Singh Sidhu.After the BJP entered into an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in 1998, it fought all the civic elections along with their ally. "The Trinamool Congress was a millstone around our neck and it is because of them that we could not expand. In fact, we knew it was suicidal for us to enter into an alliance with them," said party state secretary. "We acceded to many of their demands for the sake of the alliance. Now the freedom from the alliance has become a boon for us," he said."We have identified at least 30 to 40 seats where we will put up a good fight," he added. The party currently has two councillors, Meena Devi Purohit and Smita Jawar.Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee has already criticised the BJP for helping CPM retain power."What does she want? We should fold up the party and join Trinamool or sit at home. We believe the BJP can regain lost ground once it has come out of the alliance," said state party president. The party released the manifesto on Saturday, something which they did not do for the last 15 years."We are running all the major civic boards of the country including those of Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and we are asking people to compare their performance with that of Kolkata," Sinha said.The party has also insisted on small meetings and door-to-door campaigns. "We won't go in for big rallies and will resort to small roadside meetings, door-to-door campaigns, and that is why we have asked all our members to plunge into the battle with all energy and enthusiasm," Sinha said.

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