Over 300 rallies, grand show in Kolkata in list of BJP’s Bengal blitz - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Over 300 rallies, grand show in Kolkata in list of BJP’s Bengal blitz

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jan 26, 2019 08:55 AM IST

Narendra Modi will hold two rallies in West Bengal on February 2, the day after his government presents the interim budget in Parliament, and another on November 8.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has planned over 300 rallies in West Bengal over the next two months, and a grand show in Kolkata in the first week of April, as a build-up to the summer election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a re-election, according to a senior leader of the party.

The BJP planned to launch three simultaneous yatras from various parts of the state, to converge in a grand meeting in Kolkata.(PTI File Photo)
The BJP planned to launch three simultaneous yatras from various parts of the state, to converge in a grand meeting in Kolkata.(PTI File Photo)

BJP chief Amit Shah launched this campaign on January 22 in Malda, where he strongly criticised the state government led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of a move to cobble together a grand federal alliance against the BJP. “We had planned a yatra in West Bengal. But we did not get permission from the state government. The rallies are to mobilise support for the grand rally that we plan to organise in Kolkata in the first week of April,” said the BJP leader cited above who asked not to be named.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

Modi will hold two rallies in West Bengal on February 2 and another on November 8. One more rally is being planned between these dates, the leader said. “We will invite CMs [of BJP-ruled states] and other senior leaders of the party, like Union ministers, to address these 300 rallies,” the leader added.

The BJP planned to launch three simultaneous yatras from various parts of the state, to converge in a grand meeting in Kolkata. After the state government refused to give permission for the rath yatra, the BJP approached the Supreme Court, which, on January 15, said the yatra couldn’t be held. The court said the state’s fears of violence weren’t unfounded and asked the BJP to submit a fresh proposal to the state government. The BJP is upbeat about its prospects in West Bengal, and claims it can win 23 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections. It fielded candidates in all the seats in 2014, but could win just two despite polling nearly 8.7 million votes. This was a big jump from its 2009 tally of 2.62 million votes (6.1% vote share).

The BJP did not do well in the 2016 assembly elections either. It fielded candidates in 291 seats, won three and polled 5.5 million votes for a 10.16% vote share.

The party, however, believes it has now emerged as the main Opposition to Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the state and will do better in 2019 riding on Modi’s popularity. “The 2019 elections are to choose the PM, and Modi has an edge over everyone. The BJP will do better than 2014,” the leader said.

The party has attacked the Mamta Banerjee government on the issues of governance and minority appeasement. BJP leaders feel that Banerjee’s “soft corner” for Muslims—about 24% of West Bengal’s population—will lead to a consolidation of Hindu votes in BJP’s favour. They also insist that Modi’s governance record will outshine Banerjee’s. Other BJP leaders contend that their rivals in the state— TMC, the Left parties, and the Congress—are competing with each other the same electoral space, leaving the rest for the BJP.

The BJP is also expecting a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act, to provide citizenship to members of minority communities from Muslim-majority countries Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, will have an impact in West Bengal, where Bengali Hindus have settled in large numbers. But this has become a contentious issue in north-eastern states and several of the BJP’s allies have opposed the move. A Trinamool leader downplayed any possible implication of the campaign. “The PM should address rallies from all of Bengal’s 42 constituencies. I mean, if he really wants to work hard and travel Bengal. This will have no effect on the results, though, as Bengal will return BJP empty handed,” said senior TMC leader and food and supplies minister Jyoti Priya Mallick.

According to a political expert, the BJP faces an uphill battle. “Mamata has outsmarted the BJP by foiling its rath yatra plan. She has unsettled BJP’s momentum had managed to create over the prospect of the yatra. BJP really needs to work hard if they hope to benefit from anti-incumbency,” said psephologist Biswanath Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On