New Delhi/Kolkata: Before 2014 in Bengal's political circle no one ever heard his name. Moreover Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party was also not much aware of his name. But now Bengal BJP has become synonymous with this name, Dilip Ghosh.
Born in Kuliana Village of Paschim Medinipur district Ghosh was an RSS Pracharak from 1984 but has mostly stayed and worked out of Bengal. He was close to veteran RSS leader KS Sudarshan and served as the RSS in charge of Andaman during 1999-2007.
With a slight Hindi accent, Ghosh's raw language (at times unfiltered) and image in the Bengal's political arena of "Bhodrolok" (gentlemen) was a little misfit. But in 2014 RSS sent Ghosh to join the Bengal BJP and gave the responsibility of the expansion of the party.
"I was not into electoral politics for sure but I have witnessed politics very closely. RSS taught me to serve the nation, earlier I was serving as a pracharak and now as a politician. Politics to me and us is serving the nation and holy work," says Ghosh.
How RSS helped BJP by inducting Dilip Ghosh in Bengal's politics
As soon as he joined the BJP, Ghosh was made general secretary of the party. In the book, Mission Bengal author and journalist Snigdhendu Bhattacharya writes, "The appointment was made on 11 December 2015. The very next day, 12 December, Ghosh was felicitated at Keshav Bhavan by Atul Kumar Biswas and Keshob-ji"Keshav Rao Dikshit"the senior-most RSS pracharak in West Bengal, in the presence of Subrato Chattopadhyay, another pracharak, who had been deputed to the state BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections."
Ghosh believes that after Narendra Modi became the prime minister, the BJP aimed at expansion of the party at every state and West Bengal was in focus because the condition of the organisation was not in a good shape.
"The BJP under Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah is a very strong political force. The party leadership thought that I might be of help and that is why brought me to Bengal. In the last few years I have been working relentlessly and with the blessings of people today we are the number one political party in Bengal," says Ghosh.
Expansion of BJP in Bengal and Mission 2021
Ghosh was assigned with the key task of the expansion of the party in Bengal. Before he became the president of the Bengal BJP, Rahul Sinha was the longest-serving BJP president of Bengal. However, he was not an RSS man and a section of political analysts believe that the RSS wanted to give the expansion work of the party to an RSS pracharak, therefore, Ghosh came into the picture.
One of the key achievements of Ghosh is considered as bringing the right-hand man of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mukul Roy. Under the Ghosh-Roy duo, the BJP started expanding in Bengal. At the grassroots level and at the top level many TMC and Left leaders also joined the BJP.
As a result, the BJP won 18 out 42 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, with the highest ever vote share. Now the BJP has Mission 2021 by which they want to rule Bengal.
"You cannot run the party with limited people. We have built our credibility in Bengal and today people are trusting us. Mamata Banerjee has devastated Bengal with cut money and corruption. We will change this. Looking at the work of Prime Minister Modi, leaders from across the spectrum who really wanted to work for the people have joined our party. Everyone is welcome this is the only way to grow a political party. In 2021 we will win the election with over 200 seats," says Ghosh.
How BJP is wooing the Matua voters
Among the key strategies of BJP to win Bengal has been wooing the Matua voter base. The Matuas are a backward caste community that originally came from Bangladesh. Matua is a sect and Matua Mahasngh was established by Harichand Thakur which empowered a large section of the Namashudra community. Namashudras are Dalits who were earlier known as Chandal.
The Matuas dominate in around 30 Assembly seats of Bengal where the BJP has done pretty well in Lok Sabha. Earlier the Matuas were a strong vote base of the TMC but then it is shifting to the BJP.
The BJP is promising citizenship to the Matuas through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is considered as the key factor of getting Matua support.
Significantly the Matua movement which took place among the Namasudras under Harichand Thakur was anti-Brahminical. However, with the absence of the hardline of the Matua Mahasangh, the proximity with BJP has evolved.
"There is a wrong idea about RSS and BJP that we are anti-Dalit. But I agree that there has been a distance and that is why we are establishing our credibility within the Matuas and now they have realised that Mamata Banerjee and Left seculars have cheated them. We do not discriminate against people based on religion or caste. We have promised that with the help of CAA after we come to power Matuas will become citizens of India. We have many development projects for them in our mind," Ghosh explains.
The 70-30 equation of Bengal election
Bengal has around 30 percent Muslim voters who have been steady supporters of Left parties earlier but with the change in the government, the Muslim vote share shifted to Mamata Banerjee. In this election, though the Left parties have formed an alliance with cleric turned politician Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front, it is considered that the Muslim vote share will be with Banerjee.
"I do not believe in such a 70-30 equation. These are all stereotypes in the minds of a section of people. The BJP has won Assam where a large number of Muslims have voted for us. In Bengal also Muslims will vote for the BJP because we are the only alternative," says Ghosh.
Dilip Ghosh and his controversial remarks
Ghosh is known for his controversial remarks. Recently he made a controversial comment against Mamata Banerjee where Ghosh suggested the Bengal chief minister wear Barmuda if she wants to show her leg.
"I do not think I have said anything wrong. In Bengal's culture, our women do not show their legs while wearing saree. It is against our culture and that is why I have suggested what you are saying. As an elected representative of people its is my duty to uphold the culture and tradition of my state," says Ghosh.
In the politics of Bengal, Ghosh is indeed a charismatic and colourful leader. From RSS to Bengal BJP chief whether his journey will reach the ultimate goal of ruling Bengal is something the time will speak. But it is undoubtedly true that Ghosh is one of the very few leaders who have achieved such a big name in Bengal politics within a short span of eight years.