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BJP Initiates ‘Khela Hobe’ 2.0 with Announcement of 20 Candidates in First Lok Sabha Poll List for Mamata’s Bengal Stronghold

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday unveiled 20 out of 42 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, a state currently governed by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. This announcement comes as the BJP aims to build on its recent electoral successes in both national and state elections.

The candidates were revealed amidst Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extensive development initiatives in the Trinamool Congress stronghold. With aspirations to surpass its previous record of winning 18 seats in 2019, the BJP has nominated prominent figures including its state president Sukanta Majumdar, along with Union ministers Nisith Pramanik and Shantanu Thakur.

“In the 20 constituencies announced, we have representatives from diverse sections of society. All BJP members will contest the elections unitedly and aim to secure more seats for Prime Minister Narendra Modi from West Bengal than ever before,” stated Majumdar, who is running for re-election from Balurghat.

Union minister Nisith Pramanik, currently serving as Minister of State for Home Affairs, Youth Affairs, and Sports, will contest from Cooch Behar. Having switched allegiance from the TMC to the BJP in 2019, Pramanik secured victory over his former party’s candidate by a significant margin of over 54,000 votes.

Another Union minister in the electoral fray is Shantanu Thakur, a prominent leader from the Matua community. A staunch supporter of the Citizenship Amendment Act, Thakur, who is contesting from Bongaon, currently holds the position of Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways.

Bengal, once a stronghold of the Left for 34 years before Banerjee’s ascension to power, has emerged as a focal point for the BJP’s electoral strategy, particularly since 2014. In April last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah set a target of winning 35 seats in the state during a rally in Birbhum.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP secured two seats, and this number increased to 18 in the subsequent polls five years later. The party’s strong performance in the 2021 assembly elections saw it win 77 seats.

The BJP has been relentless in its efforts to challenge Mamata Banerjee’s administration on various fronts, with the recent Sandeshkhali incident being the latest point of contention. Prime Minister Modi criticized the Bengal CM over the handling of Sheikh Shahjahan, a TMC leader accused of sexual assault, who was eventually arrested prior to the PM’s visit to the state.

“The nation witnessed the treatment meted out to the women of Sandeshkhali by the Trinamool Congress. The entire country is outraged. The soul of Raja Ram Mohan Roy must be pained by the events in Sandeshkhali…the party shielded the TMC leader, and it was only after pressure from BJP leaders that the police arrested him yesterday,” remarked the Prime Minister during his address in Hooghly on Friday.