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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

BJP warms up to Bengal as Modi plans visits to state

Bibhas Bhattacharyya, Hindustan Times  Malda, April 25, 2014
First Published: 01:24 IST(25/4/2014) | Last Updated: 01:28 IST(25/4/2014)

Banking on a countrywide wave in favour of Narendra Modi and anti-incumbency sentiment against Mamata Banerjee government, the BJP seems to be taking West Bengal seriously in this election.

While on April 27 Modi will be in Uttarpara for singer Bappi Lahiri in Serampore constituency and journalist Chandan Mitra in Hooghly, on May 4 he will visit Asansol to campaign for singer Babul Supriyo.

His fifth visit to the state is also on the cards before the May 12 phase when 17 constituencies will go to the polls in Bengal. But date of the visit is yet to be finalised.

His visits — after he launched party campaign in Bengal from the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata on February 5 and addressed a rally in Siliguri on April 10 — has enthused state BJP leaders. “Modiji’s visit will undoubtedly boost the already buoyant morale of our workers,” said state BJP president, Rahul Sinha.

BJP is sniffing significant gains — four seats say party workers and 10 according to party president Rajnath Singh — in West Bengal, where it has been a less than marginal player. Earlier, its best show was two seats in 1999 polls.

While in the first visit Modi and Rajnath were conciliatory towards Banerjee’s TMC, on his second visit Modi launched a blistering attack on the Bengal CM on a range of issues, from her pursuit of vote-bank politics to the Saradha scam.

In Uttarpara, Lahiri is expected to give trouble to TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee. But in neighbouring Hooghly, the ruling party candidate and incumbent Ratna De Nag is comfortably placed against Mitra.


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