Fifth phase: In a first, Modi, Amit Shah to campaign in Bengal at the same time
The campaign for the fifth phase assembly elections in West Bengal is gathering steam with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah scheduled to hold consecutive rallies in the state on the same day, for the first time.
While the Prime Minister will hold three public rallies in south Bengal, the Union home minister will be camping in north Bengal, addressing two rallies and leading two roadshows on Monday.
“It is for the first time that both Modi and Shah will be camping in West Bengal together on the same day to bolster the party’s campaign,” said a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.
While elections in 135 out of 294 constituencies have already been held in four phases till date, 45 seats will go to polls in the fifth phase on April 17. This is the highest number of constituencies that will go to polls on a single day in the state this election.
With the Election Commission of India extending the electoral silence period for the fifth phase election from 48 hours to 72 hours, other political parties are also stepping up their poll campaign.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will hold at least three public rallies, one in Nadia district and two in North 24 Parganas, on Monday.
While the BJP has set a target of winning more than 200 seats out of the 294 assembly constituencies, the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said that BJP will not reach a three-digit figure. The BJP had made deep inroads in Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls winning 18 of the 42 seats. The TMC’s seat share had come down from 34 seats in 2014 to 22 seats in 2019.
With Congress bastions going to polls in the last few phases, the party’s former president Rahul Gandhi too is expected to start campaigning in the state from this week, a senior leader in the state said.
The Congress leader has so far campaigned in the remaining three poll-bound states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, and in the Union territory of Puducherry where the stakes were high for the party.
The Congress strongholds in Bengal are in a few districts such as Malda, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and parts of north Bengal. Polling in these seats will take place in the last three phases.