Dilip Ghosh, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak, has been the chief of Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit since December 2015. Under his command, the BJP’s popularity has increased by leaps and bounds in the state. A member of parliament representing West Bengal’s Medinipur constituency, Ghosh appears to be a serious challenger to the two-time chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, in the ongoing West Bengal assembly elections. The election result would be announced on 2 May.
As the eight-phase long assembly election in West Bengal was reaching its final lap, Amit Bhardwaj, a freelance journalist, interviewed Ghosh to understand his politics and work in the state. Early morning on 19 April, Bhardwaj, who has been covering the state elections, met Ghosh at his residence in Kolkata’s Lake Town locality. Ghosh appeared confident of BJP’s victory and estimated that the party would secure 25 seats in each phase of the elections.
Ghosh has claimed on multiple occasions in the recent past that the Trinamool Congress has physically attacked him and other BJP members. Such statements—and other comments with sexist, communal or inflammatory undertones—have often landed Ghosh in controversy, including many times during this elections season. When Bhardwaj asked him about a few of such statements, Ghosh was unapologetic. He staunchly defended all decisions by him and his party—including that of holding huge election rallies in West Bengal in the middle of a brutal second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
When Bhardwaj asked him about the politics of enmity and violence in West Bengal, Ghosh blamed other parties. Then, he said, “We respond in the language that they understand. Should we become Gandhiwadi and offer prayers? We are here to do politics.”
Amit Bhardwaj: Sir, during this election, the country is grappling with a pandemic. In West Bengal, 323 new COVID cases were reported on 18 March. A month later, on 18 April, 8,419 new COVID cases were reported. In times like this, from where did political parties and politicians get the moral courage to hold such huge rallies in West Bengal?
Dilip Ghosh: This trend started last May, and was started by the TMC. Mamata Banerjee has never acknowledged any lockdown. Hence, the term “lockdown” became a farce in the state. The state government fudged the data of COVID cases and deaths. The place where we are right now, in last May, a TMC district president had organised a rally of 20,000 people, without any restrictions. Then the trend began. We also followed suit. Then we also held public meetings, rallies and door-to-door campaigns. We geared up for the polls. And that is continuing.
Moreover, the states which are witnessing an upsurge in the COVID-19 cases such as Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, no elections are happening there. No jan sabhas [public meetings] are happening in these states. On other hand, West Bengal witnessed public meetings with lakhs of participants. So, why are COVID cases increasing in those states instead of West Bengal?! We need to find the real reason behind the surge instead of putting blame on someone.