New Delhi/ Kolkata, April 22: With speculation over Priyanka Gandhi contesting against PM Narendra Modi gaining momentum, now there are chances that PM Modi may also contest from West Bengal. A day ahead of the third phase of Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Monday said there is a demand from the people of the state that Prime Minister Modi should contest from Bengal."It is a demand from the people of West Bengal," Vijayvargiya, who is in-charge of Bengal, told IANS when asked about his earlier comment in an interview to a television channel that Modi may contest from the state.However, Vijayvargiya hastened to add that BJP national president Amit Shah has already ruled out any such possibility. "But today, Amit Bhai has already denied," he saidOn Monday morning, responding to a direct question as to whether there is any plan to field Modi from Bengal, Shah had said: "There is no such plan as of now".On Sunday, Vijayvargiya had set the cat among the pigeons by saying that the party may consider nominating Modi as a candidate from Bengal, in response to the wishes of the people of the state who want to get rid of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's "terror raj, syndicate raj."He had gone to the extent of saying that if party president Amit Shah agrees, Modi could be in the fray from one of the constituencies in Bengal going to the hustings in the last phase on May 19.Two days back, when Modi flew into the state for addressing an election rally in South Dinjapur district's Buniyadpur, BJP leader Mukul Roy publicly requested him to contest the polls from Bengal.Though Modi kept silent, BJP sources said Roy had also sounded Modi on the matter while the two of them were sitting on the dais.The request is part of the Bengal BJP's plans to send out a signal to the voters in the eastern state about the high priority being given to Bengal by the top party leadership in its bid to retain power at the Centre.Having reached a saturation point in its traditional stronghold Hindi belt where it came up with a superb performance to win a majority in the 2014 elections, the BJP this time has adopted a "Look East" policy, concentrating on states like Bengal and Odisha where it has been considerably weak through the decades.Seeing a lot of scope of increasing its strength in these states, the BJP has channelised much of its energy and resources in strengthening its organisational network.Bengal, which has the third largest number of seats (42) among all states, naturally became the focus of the BJP's plans.In the second half of the 2018 itself there was much speculation of the two BJP top guns Modi and Shah contesting from the two states - the prime minister from Puri in Odisha and Shah from one of the two seats in Kolkata.Though the strategy was not implemented, a section of state BJP leaders feels Modi's entry in the electoral contest in Bengal even in this later stage would lead to a "windfall" for the BJP across eastern India.The strategy would also force a "tense" Trinamool to redraw its strategy in the face of the direct confrontation with a personality like Modi.
News24 Bureau/ IANS