Cultural nationalism, Hindutva politics and farmer outreach will be on full display during Home Minister Amit Shah’s two-day visit to West Bengal starting from Saturday.
The former BJP chief is scheduled to address public gatherings and party workers to galvanise the saffron party’s poll machinery ahead of the elections in the state next year.
Shah will also hold a review meeting of election management works with central ministers from West Bengal, organisation secretaries, zonal observers and BJP state general secretaries.
Ahead of Shah’s visit, the BJP has assigned responsibilities of Assembly seats falling in all 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state under “Mission Bengal” to six Union ministers, who will stay in their assigned constituencies for a fortnight every month to strengthen the party and help identify winnable candidates.
Ministers Gajendra Singh, Arjun Munda, Pralhad Patel, Sanjeev Baliyan, Nityanand Rai and Mansukh Bhai Mandaviya will take charge of five to six Lok Sabha seats each to ensure that the party, which is organisationally not very strong in the state, plugs its weaknesses.
The BJP is making a serious bid for power in the state after winning 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. The saffron party had won just two seats in the 2014 general elections. BJP’s Lok Sabha tally in West Bengal was just four less than the ruling TMC, which had won 22 seats while the Left, whose over three-decades-long rule came to an end in 2011, scored a duck. The Congress had won two.
The Lok Sabha MPs of West Bengal will give their feedback to the in-charge ministers. They will then apprise Shah, BJP chief J P Nadda and party general secretary organisation B L Santosh of their plans.
Shah will also have lunch with a farmer family on Saturday. The event comes in the backdrop of the farmers’ agitation on Delhi border against new farm bills and the sensitivity of the issue in West Bengal, where Mamata Banerjee had come to power in 2011, building a campaign around farm protest in Nandigram and Singur.
There is a possibility that former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari may join the BJP during Shah’s visit. The BJP is likely to make it a big spectacle by inducting several TMC leaders including a few MLAs.
Shah will begin his tour by visiting Ramakrishna Mission, which has good hold among the people of the state including the intelligentsia.
Besides visiting the famous Maa Siddeshwari Mandir at Medinipur and Devi Mahamaya Temple, Shah’s itinerary takes care of popular nationalistic and cultural symbols. He will offer tributes to freedom fighter Shaheed Khudiram Bose on Saturday and visit Shantiniketan to pay tributes to Rabindranath Tagore and address a gathering at Bangladesh Bhawan Auditorium on Sunday.