"Amit Shah will start Bengal's Lok Sabha campaign from Malda district tomorrow. It will be followed by two other rallies on January 23 at Jhargram and Suri in Birbhum district," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said.
The BJP will kick-start its campaign in Bengal for the national elections with a public meeting by party chief Amit Shah in Malda on Wednesday, three days after Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally featuring opposition leaders from across the country. Malda, a border district in north Bengal, was a Congress stronghold for decades with its politics being dominated by party veteran A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhury and his family. However, ruling Trinamool Congress have built a strong presence there after regime change in the state in 2011.
“Amit Shah will start Bengal’s Lok Sabha campaign from Malda district tomorrow. It will be followed by two other rallies on January 23 at Jhargram and Suri in Birbhum district,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said. The series of rallies were originally scheduled to begin on Sunday, however had to be postponed after Shah was taken ill and was admitted at the AIIMS in Delhi with swine flu. State BJP leaders feel Shah’s rallies will help the party give a “befitting reply” to the Trinamool Congress’ January 19 mega show.
“He (Shah) will give a befitting reply to the opposition rally. He will set the tone for the Lok Sabha polls and we are confident that we will win more than 22 out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal,” a senior BJP leader said. The BJP has identified West Bengal as a priority state for the general elections and Shah has set a target of 22 of the state’s total 42 Lok Sabha seats.
The party is also looking to host a few rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, nothing has been confirmed. Reacting to Shah’s upcoming rallies, Trinamool Congress’ secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, “They (BJP top leaders) can come several times but it won’t bear any results as they will loose the Lok Sabha elections.” Over the last few years, the BJP has emerged as the main opposition in the state with a significant show in rural polls and by-elections.
The party had planned ‘Rath Yatras’ from December touching all Lok Sabha constituencies in the state to boost its chances in the national elections. But it was denied permission by the state government and has been caught in legal tangles. The Supreme Court had recently put the programme on hold saying the Bengal government’s law and order apprehensions over the ‘Rath yatra’ was not “totally unfounded” and had asked BJP to submit a fresh request and seek necessary approvals.