Next week BJP president Amit Shah will visit Bengal, now a focus state for the party, to launch ‘booth chalo’ drive, an exercise to focus on strengthening the party organisation at the grassroots level. To begin the exercise, he has chosen chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s constituency Bhawanipore as one of the three spots from where he will flag off the drive.
Shah will undertake the drive in three constituencies Bhawanipore in Kolkata, Gauranganagar in Rajarhat, North 24 Parganas and Siliguri in north Bengal.
The BJP president will also visit five households in each constituency where he will not only speak to the members of his party’s programmes, but also will share meals.
Fresh from its spectacular electoral sweep in Uttar Pradesh, BJP has fixed Bengal, Odisha and Kerala as priority states. In Bengal, the party has traditionally been a marginal player with three MLAs in an Assembly of 294 its best show. BJP wants to make a dent in the 2018 rural polls in Bengal, which it also wants to use as a rehearsal for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
After the renewed vigour post UP polls, the saffron camp have organised Ram Navami celebrations in an unprecedented scale in the state. On April 9 in the Assembly bypoll in Kanthi Dakshin, one of the bastions of Trinamool Congress, BJP has raised its vote share from 9% in 2006 to 31%, further boosting the morale of its workers.
“After our party president launches the exercise between April 25 and 27, all state leaders and workers will unleash a drive to visit all houses and meet people between June 7 and 23. We will also visit the house of the chief minister,” Sayantan Basu, general secretary of Bengal BJP told HT.
However, Amit Shah will not address any public rallies this time. Apart from the ‘booth chalo’ drive, Shah will hold meetings with BJP kers and will try to attract intellectuals from Bengal into the BJP fold. Most Bengali intellectuals have traditionally sided with the Left, while some have aligned with centrist parties. This is a vacuum that the party leaders want to fill fast.
According to the itinerary, Shah will meet party leaders and intellectuals and prominent citizens in Mahajati Sadan on April 27. Party leaders told HT that in the 1,200-capacity auditorium, there will be 800 party leaders/workers from the five organisational districts into which they divide Kolkata. Intellectuals/prominent citizens will be invited to the rest 400 seats.
Shah will arrive in Siliguri on April 25, where he will go for the ‘booth chalo’ abhiyan and the meet party workers. He will reach Kolkata next day by train.
BJP also views the CBI investigation in Narada against an array of Trinamool MPs and ministers as an opportunity to turn on the political heat on ruling Trinamool Congress.