Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Four days before the results of assembly polls in five states are due, BJP launched its 2024 Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal. The party organized a huge rally in the heart of Kolkata. Addressing the rally, Home Minister Amit Shah said, he was confident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get his third term by winning next year’s parliamentary elections. Shah also predicted that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress would lose badly in Bengal, and in the 2026 assembly elections. “It will be ‘goodbye time’ for ‘Didi’ (Mamata)”, he said. Amit Shah also said, Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens will be implemented in Bengal and “no one can stop it”. Mamata Banerjee and her party had been strongly opposing the CAA and NRC, alleging that it was being targeted at Muslims. Amit Shah alleged that the Trinamool government in Bengal was distributing Aadhar and voter identity cards to infiltrators from Bangladesh and Myanmar, who have entered the state. “These infiltrators”, he said, “are depriving the rights of Bengali Hindus and BJP will not allow this.” Even as Shah was addressing the rally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders sat on a dharna near Ambedkar statue inside Assembly premises demanding release of funds for 3,000 MNREGA workers from the Centre. However, all eyes were on the BJP rally which Mamata government tried to stall by refusing to give police permission. BJP obtained Calcutta High Court’s green signal and this energized party supporters who converged on the rally venue. In his speech, Amit Shah alleged that Mamata Banerjee had won the last assembly elections with the help of rigging, but this time, her appeasement politics will end. Shah targeted Trinamool government on issues relating to corruption, crime, electoral violence, appeasement and infiltration. “The people of Bengal will now teach Didi a lesson for all the scams and political violence that have taken place”, Shah said. Amit Shah said, Bengal received Rs 14,000 crore as MNREGA funds from the Centre during 10 years of UPA rule, while Modi government has given Rs 54,000 crore funds to the state. Soon after Shah’s rally ended, BJP MLAs led by leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari went to the state assembly premises to stage a counter-dharna. They were alleging “authoritarianism” on part of Mamata Banerjee. There was sloganeering from both sides. Later, Mamata Banerjee claimed that since Amit Shah’s rally was a flop show, BJP MLAs have come to the assembly premises to stage protest. She requested the Speaker to take action. On the other hand, BJP leaders alleged that the state police stopped buses from bringing people from the districts to the rally and refused to allow supporters to march to the venue. BJP is going to exert its full force in West Bengal this time. The party’s strategy is quite clear. The focus this time will be on states like West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, where the party is said to be weak. The party hopes to improve its tally of Lok Sabha seats. In 2019, BJP won 18 out of a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. It was a big jump compared to 2014, when the party managed to win only two seats. In the assembly elections in 2021, BJP won 77 seats, but in 2016, the party failed to win a single assembly seat. Now, BJP is the main opposition party in Bengal, and the Left Front, which ruled the state for more than three decades, has been completely sidelined. The Congress is nearly extinct. The main battle in Bengal is going to be between BJP and Trinamool Congress. Similarly, BJP is eyeing Telangana too, where it could win a single seat in the last assembly elections. In the 2019 LS elections, BJP won four out of a total of 17 seats in Telangana. The party hopes to garner more seats this time.

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