Bengal assembly elections: Amit Shah to hold rallies; TMC may release manifesto
- Amit Shah will address three rallies in 2 days ahead of the first phase of polls on March 27.
With the first of the eight-phase assembly polls in Bengal to be held in 13 days, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have planned to boost ongoing preparations from Sunday.
Union home minister Amit Shah will arrive at Kolkata airport on Sunday afternoon and fly straight to Kharagpur in West Midnapore district in a chopper, the Bengal BJP has announced. He will address a rally at Kharagpur town around 5 pm and meet district and block-level leaders in his hotel in the evening. On Monday, Shah will fly to Jhargram and Bankura districts to address back-to-back rallies. He will fly back to Kolkata on Monday afternoon and leave for Delhi.
Polls in these three districts will be held in the first phase on March 27 and second phase on April 1.
Kharagpur Sadar is an important seat for the BJP. On Wednesday, the party fielded Bengali actor Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay from the seat, which Dilip Ghosh, the BJP state president, won in 2016. The BJP lost the seat in the 2019 by-election which had to be held because Ghosh contested and won the Midnapore Lok sabha seat earlier that year. Kharagpur Sadar went to the TMC for the first time. The winner, Pradip Sarkar, secured 47% votes against 39.29 % that Ghosh got in 2016. Sarkar has been fielded again by the TMC.
For Chattopadhyay, popularly known as Hiran, the contest is a tough one. “I am grateful to the local people for the love they have shown me. They have enormous respect for Dilip Ghosh,” Chattopadhyay said on the sidelines of a rally on Saturday.
Jhargram and Bankura districts, that Shah will visit, have a sizeable number of tribal voters who backed the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
The TMC plans to release its election manifesto on Sunday, party leaders said. The document may include some social welfare measures that Banerjee will promise to implement if she comes to power. “Some of these promises will focus on the public distribution system and employment that the BJP is highlighting in its ongoing campaign,” a TMC leader said on condition of anonymity since Banerjee is supposed to make the announcements.
“Though the chief minister is unable to walk, she insists on addressing a rally in the districts either on Monday or Tuesday,” the TMC leader added.
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The ruling party had planned to release its manifesto on Thursday but it had to be postponed following Banerjee’s ankle injury at Nandigram in East Midnapore on Wednesday evening.
On Sunday, the BJP may also release the list of 75 candidates for the third and fourth phase, if the party's central leadership clears it after final scrutiny. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the central election committee’s meeting in Delhi on Saturday evening where the list was discussed. Several former TMC leaders and ministers, who joined the BJP recently, are likely to be fielded from the constituencies they represented.
Former forest minister Rajib Banerjee, who was elected twice from the Domjur constituency in Howrah district, was among other leaders who were flown to Delhi on Friday. “I told the leadership that I want to contest from Domjur. The party will take the final call,” Banerjee said on Saturday night.