Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend four rallies during BJP’s December “rath yatra” in West Bengal to give a thrust to the party’s campaign in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party’s state unit said Monday.
BJP president Amit Shah will kickstart the three rath yatra in the state which is scheduled to start from Coochbehar district in the north on December 7, from Gangasagar in the south on December 9, and from Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14.
The “rath yatra” (chariot march) would cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set a target of winning over 22 seats.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend four rallies in Bengal during our rath yatra campaign in the state. We have informed the party central leadership and the PMO. The final dates are yet to be fixed. Let’s see what happens,” West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh told reporters Monday.
Besides the four rallies in which PM Modi is likely to be present, he is also scheduled to hold a public meeting at the historic Brigade parade ground in Kolkata early next year.
The PM’s Brigade ground rally is expected to be after a public meeting of opposition parties led by Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee at the same venue on January 19.
Ms Banerjee, who has floated the idea of the federal front of the regional parties, is making efforts to bring leaders of prominent anti-BJP parties on the dais in the rally ahead of the crucial general elections.
For the smooth functioning of the rath yatra, we have divided the state in four zones and the rallies of the prime minister will be organized in such a way that it covers all these zones, the state BJP president said.
The presence of the PM and party chief Amit Shah in course of the rath yatras underline the importance of the event for the saffron party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The good performance of the BJP in local bodies elections in Bengal recently where it stood second to TMC leaving behind the Congress and the CPI(U) has buoyed them in the state to take on Mamata Banerjee as her main opponent in the coming general election.
Reacting to Mr Ghosh’s announcement, senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said the “divisive politics” of the BJP and RSS would not yield any political benefits in Bengal.
“The land of Bengal is a cradle of secularlism and efforts of BJP to divide the people of the state on religious lines won’t work here,” he said.
Mr Ghosh had earlier said any efforts to stop party’s rath yatra by the government or “goons” of TMC will face “stiff resistance” from the masses and the people of Bengal are fed up with the misrule of TMC.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakarborty said both TMC and BJP are engaged in “competitive communalism” in Bengal.
Senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan said if the TMC government is serious about stopping the march of communal forces in the state then it wouldn’t have taken up the sinister designs of “destroying secular forces” such as Left and the Congress by poaching on its elected representatives.