Amit Shah arrives in Kolkata to the beat of BJP’s welcome drums and Trinamool’s protest slogans

At the Kolkata airport, BJP president Amit Shah was welcomed by party workers. Trinamool Congress supporters carried placards criticising the NRC exercise in Assam.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2018 13:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Amit Shah,Amit Shah in Kolkata,Amit Shah rally
The Kolkata airport became a scene of competition for both the saffron workers and ruling Trinamool Congress supporters laid out their own style of welcome for Amit Shah.(Kailash Vijayvarghiya/Twitter)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah arrived in Kolkata around 11:30 on Saturday to a musical welcome and noisy protests ahead of a public meeting to boost the saffron party’s footprints in West Bengal in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections

The Kolkata airport itself became a scene of competition for both the saffron workers and ruling Trinamool Congress supporters laid out their own style of welcome. (Live updates)

BJP workers staged a ‘kirtan’ (Bengali devotional song), complete with khol (two sided drums) and kartals in traditional style, to welcome their leader.

Some were also seen playing the ektara, a one-stringed instrument typically used by bauls of wondering minstrels of Bengal.

At a short distance stood protesting Trinamool Congress workers, who wore masks of Shah and carried placards criticising the NRC exercise in Assam.

The protest was led by Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Mamatabala Thakur, who is a member of the Matuas, a backward community who had migrated from Bangladesh.

“We are all under attack. We are protesting for the Indians who have been excluded from the NRC list,” said Thakur.

Ruling party leaders also waved black flags at Duttabad on the route through which Shah’s convoy moved from the airport to Kolkata Port Trust guest house before proceeding to the venue on Mayo Road.

In Rishra of Hooghly district, a few Trinamool Congress supporters shaved their heads to protest the visit of the BJP leader.

Gautam Chakraborty, Rishra block president of TMC, said they adopted this novel method to make a mark.

BJP leaders also covered either side of Mayo Road with reams of cloth so that the Trinamool Congress party flags and banners of Mamata Banerjee fixed on both flanks don’t remain visible to the crowd at the venue.

BJP’s Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh alleged that their posters and flags were torn by ruling party supporters. “We have also got information that many of our supporters are being prevented from reaching Mayo Road by Trinamool supporters,” said Ghosh.

Trinamool Congress has decided to stage statewide protests against the NRC list in Assam on Saturday in every district except Kolkata in view of the BJP president’s rally.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 12:33 IST