200 out of 294 seats – that’s the target that BJP leader Amit Shah set for the party’s West Bengal wing ahead of Assembly elections in 2021.
“Josh se nahi, hosh se kaam karo (work intelligently and not just with enthusiasm),” Mr Shah told 250 office bearers at a party meeting at the end of his Bankura visit today.
The instant reaction from Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress was from MP Sougata Roy.
“They don’t have a Chief Ministerial candidate, the don’t have cadres, they don’t have support. And as the Bihar election will show, Prime Minister Modi’s charisma is fading. They have no hope in Bengal. It’s Amit Shah’s pipe dream,” he said.
“In 2018, when I said BJP will win 22 seats in Bengal, our opponents laughed at me. Even my own party leaders laughed at me. But we did it,” Mr Shah said. “We got 18 seats and we lost 4-to-5 seats by just 2000-3000 votes.”
Thumping the podium on stage at Bankura Mr Shah added: “But today I am saying this in Bankura that, with the blessings of Birsa Munda, BJP will come to power with at least 200 seats.”
“Those who want to laugh at this – let them laugh. But if we work according to the plan, BJP will win more than 200 seats,” the Union Home Minister said.
Sources said there was a collective gasp at the venue and then applause and cheers. Earlier in the day, Mr Shah had publicly claimed that BJP would come to power in Bengal with a two-third majority. Two thirds of 294, the seat strength of the Bengal Assembly, is 196; the half-way mark to win the Assembly is 148.
According to the BJP calculations, it led in 120-odd Assembly seats in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 and leaders now brimming with confidence say they are ready for the giant leap.