Political strategist Prashant Kishor on Monday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party will “struggle to cross double digits” in the West Bengal Assembly elections and vowed to quit Twitter if his predictions fail. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has roped in Kishor to strategise for the state elections next year
“For all the hype amplified by a section of supportive media, in reality BJP will struggle to cross double digits in West Bengal,” Kishor tweeted. “PS: Please save this tweet and if BJP does any better I must quit this space!”
Kishor’s assertion came two days after Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah inducted former Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari into the party along with other defectors. Besides Adhikari, six MLAs of the Trinamool Congress, one each from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Congress also joined the BJP. Two-time TMC MP from Bardhaman Purba Lok Sabha constituency Sunil Mondal also defected to the BJP.
Following Kishor’s announcement, BJP National General Secretary and West Bengal observer Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted: “After the BJP’s tsunami in Bengal, this country will have to lose an election strategist after forming the government.”
During Shah’s two-day campaign for the state elections, the senior BJP leader claimed his party would form the next government with 200 seats in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly. He also claimed that Banerjee would then be left alone in her party, referring to defections in the Trinamool Congress.
The home minister also accused Banerjee of favoring her family members, saying that she was worried about the political career of her nephew and TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee.
Adhikari’s exit has sparked speculation about infighting in the Trinamool Congress. The former West Bengal minister claimed that the Banerjee-led party had become an “individual centric party” and warned that it will no longer be in a position to represent the people of the state.
In an open letter addressed to the local-level members of the Trinamool Congress, Adhikari wrote that West Bengal was at a critical juncture ahead of the elections. He said “an extremely deep rot and malaise” has set in his former party.
Adhikari, a two-term MP, had been in charge of the TMC in several districts, including Malda, Murshidabad, Purulia and Bankura. The 49-year-old-leader has a crucial support base in the state. He was also the face of the Trinamool Congress in the 2008 Nandigram movement, which by many accounts, was a major factor in the unseating of the Left Front government in the state in 2011.
The former Trinamool Congress leader resigned from all the positions he held in the Trinamool Congress on December 17. He, however, did not specify any reason, and thanked the party chairperson for “challenges and opportunities” presented to him. This came a day after he resigned as a member of the Legislative Assembly and almost 20 days after he resigned as West Bengal transport minister. He had quit from the post of chairperson of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners too.
He has been accorded a “Z” category security cover by the Narendra Modi government.
Last week, Trinamool Congress MLA Silbhadra Dutta and the party’s minority cell general secretary Kabirul Islam resigned from their posts, a day after Adhikari’s formal exit from the party. Four politicians quit from the party’s positions within a span of two days. Five local TMC leaders in the Malda district had also tendered their resignations along with Adhikari.