Kolkata, April 24
BJP chief Amit Shah begins a three-day political campaign in West Bengal from Tuesday, kickstarting his booth level public interactions with house visits to Naxalbari – where the Maoist movement in India was born half a century back – and carpet bombing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s constituency the next day.
Amit Shah’s visit, aimed at giving a boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s efforts to corner more political space in the eastern state and emerge as the main opposition to the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, also includes meetings with party workers and addressing gatherings of intellectuals.
The Naxalbari block in northern West Bengal’s Darjeeling district was the stage for an armed peasant uprising in 1967 led by the local tribals that inspired the Maoist movement which spread to various other states through the years. The Maoists are also called Naxalites, the name being derived from Naxalabari.
Shah is slated to visit a booth at Naxalabari, where he would hold a party workers’ meeting before leading a mass contact programme with a tour to five-six houses. Other national and state level BJP leaders like Union Minister S.S. Ahluwalia and party National Secretary Rahul Sinha, would simultaneously contact residents of some other houses, the party said.
However, Sinha said the visit has no connect with the Naxalbari movement.
“There is no specific significance in Shah starting his programme from Naxalbari. This is a party decision. The event could have been started from any other block,” Sinha Said.
“This booth level contact programme is meant to enthuse our grassroot workers,” he said.
Shah would wrap up his programmes on Tuesday with a meeting with intellectuals at the Siliguri Indoor Stadium.
On Wednesday, Shah would reach Kolkata and head straight for ASouth Kolkata’s Bhowanipore, the constituency of the Chief Minister. She also lives in the constituency.
The constituency is considered a mini India of sorts, with a large number of Gujarati residents, as also a fair share of Sikhs and Marwaris, besides housing the ancestral houses of Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had surprised one and all by establishing a lead from the assembly segment, with pundits attributing it to the Gujaratis voting en bloc to see one of their brethren (Narendra Modi) as the country’s Prime Minister.
In last year’s assembly election, however, the BJP finished a distant third, despite fielding Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose. Banerjee retained the seat with a huge margin.
Beginning his day with a press conference at the Press Club, Kolkata, Shah would do a repeat of Siliguri by holding a booth workers’ meeting followed by a hour-long mass contact programme (Booth Sampark Karyakram) by visiting some houses.
“It is the Chief Minister’s constituency. He wants to see the state of development programmes in her constituency. Also, residents of the area requested him to visit Bhowanipore,” BJP state General Secretary Debasree Chaudhuri Said.
On Wednesday evening, Shah would address intellectuals and BJP office bearers at Mahajati Sadan.
In the last leg of his visit on Thursday, Shah is slated to meet representatives of the various Sangh Parivar outfits, hold parleys with the core team of BJP leaders in the state, and then proceed to Newtown, Rajarhat, in the city’s north eastern fringe for another round of booth workers’ meeting and mass contact programme.
Shah’s programme is being seen as a part of the BJP’s efforts to strengthen the party organisation at the grass roots, where the Trinamool has an intimidating and overwhelming presence far outstripping other political parties.
Fresh from its spectacular victory in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has made Bengal, Odisha and Kerala as the target states.
The BJP President’s visit to Bengal also comes in the backdrop of the party’s noteworthy result in the Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat by-polls where it emerged runners up to the Trinamool, leaving the Left Front and the Congress way behind.
Kolkata, April 24