File photo: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.(ANI)
File photo: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.(ANI)

Yogi Adityanath to visit Malda next week to boost BJP’s Bengal prospects

  • Besides rallies, the chief minister’s itinerary could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 12:06 AM IST

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath will visit Malda in West Bengal on Tuesday to participate in a ‘Poribortan Jatra’ and hold a rally in the key district. This comes in a bid to create space for the party in the region where tribals hold power in some seats and whose leaders are being wooed by the BJP.

West Bengal is likely to go to polls in April-May and of the 12 Assembly segments in Malda district, tribal voters determine the outcome in about 4 segments, BJP leaders said.

Adityanath’s visit will happen days after BJP chief JP Nadda launched the ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’ (revival of Bengal's golden days) campaign aimed at stopping the Mamata Banerjee-led ruling Trinamool Congress government from coming to power for a third consecutive term.

Ahead of UP CM's visit, BJP cadres started connecting with tribal farmers in Malda. His itinerary is still being drafted and could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.

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“Of the seats in Malda with heavy tribal presence, the CPM had won two and the Congress one in the 2016 Assembly polls. The two CPM MLAs have since defected to the BJP. Several important MLAs and ministers of the Mamata government have joined the BJP and I won’t be surprised if more from the ruling party or the CPM defect to the BJP after Yogi ji’s rally,” a BJP leader said.

UP’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and UP BJP general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal have already been tasked with the Bengal campaign. Maurya, an OBC leader, is connecting with the OBC and the Dalit voters in Bengal while Bansal has been working out the organisational dynamics in the state where the BJP feels its political connect has been growing.

This will be Yogi’s first visit to Bengal since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP did very well and one where his visits kicked up a storm after BJP claimed his chopper was not allowed to land in the state. Chief minister Adityanath subsequently visited Bengal through Jharkhand and held a rally in Purulia targeting the Mamata government.

“West Bengal has always been close to our hearts. Our ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee hailed from there. And, people having tried all options there, now have hopes from the BJP,” BJP's Harish Chandra Srivastava said.

“Yogi’s visit will have an impact in the poll-bound state. Over the years, the BJP’s graph has been growing in Bengal. In 2011, the party contested 289 out of 294 Assembly seats and failed to open its account after garnering a meagre 4.06 per cent votes. But, its graph has been going up in Bengal since then. In the 2016 Assembly polls, the party won three seats and raised its vote share to 10.06 per cent and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it surpassed even its own expectations winning 18 of the 42 seats from the state with a vote share of 40.64 per cent,” he added.

“Remember in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, our vote share of 40.64 per cent was just behind ruling TMC’s 43 per cent vote. We won 18 seats and the TMC won 22 seats. Naturally, the TMC is rattled by our growing popularity and the attack on our leaders and cadres only proves that it’s the ruling party which is now feeling the heat,” Srivastava said.

The 18 seats that the BJP won in the 2019 general elections include Malda North, a BJP leader said explaining why the party has decided to get Yogi to begin launch a campaign from this district.

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