Kolkata, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will kick start a BJP mass campaign against the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal and try to give a push to the saffron outfit’s drive backing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) during a day-long trip here on Sunday.
Shah is scheduled to address a rally at the Shahid Minar Maidan in the city hub, where the state BJP has decided to give him and BJP national President J.P. Nadda a civic reception for their role in passing the new citizenship law in the Parliament.
The visit of Shah, considered the number two man in the organisation and the Central government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is being seen as an attempt to energise the party rank and file and boost the saffron outfit’s prospects in the coming statewide civic polls slated to be held around April, especially in the backdrop of its poor show in the Assembly bypolls held late last year.
The fears of a possible National Register of Citizens exercise unsettling the lives of millions, which the BJP’s opponents cleverly played up with gutso, went a long way in spelling doom for the party in the bypolls — an anti-climax after its heady show in last year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Six months after winning a record 18 of the 42 LS seats in the state, the BJP lost all three Assembly seats where bypolls were held, despite having taken huge leads in two of the segments during the general elections.
Since then, the CAA has been enacted by the Centre, with the Trinamool, Congress and the Left carrying out a shrill campaign against it.
Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has gone to the extent of saying that she won’t allow “the draconian law” to be implemented in the state. Matching her political rhetoric, Banerjee wooed the Left and the Congress to support a resolution in the Assembly against the legislation.
In such a scenario, the state BJP has tried to counter its opponents’ propaganda against the CAA with political programmes of its own, though opinions vary as to whether it has got the sort of traction the party would have liked.
And therein lies the biggest significance of Shah’s visit, as he is the man who moved and ensured the passing of the legislation in the Parliament.
“Our opponents are trying to sow confusion in the minds of the people, which Shah — the man who piloted the bill — will dispel. Being a political heavyweight, his arguments and assertions will have a huge effect,” said a BJP leader.
“He will give a push to our pro-CAA campaign,” state BJP General Secretary Sayantan Basu told IANS.
Political observers feel the CAA could be a game-changer either way in the civic polls, being considered the semifinal before next year’s all-important Assembly elections.
Shah will also roll out the BJP’s mass outreach programme “Aar noi anyay” (no more injustice) through which the party aims to connect with over five crore voters in the state in the next six months by holding the Banerjee government “accountable for its misrule”.
“It is a protest against the injustice caused to the people of the state by the current regime. It will give the people a platform to express their anger with the Banerjee government,” said state BJP President Dilip Ghosh.
During the campaign, the BJP workers will conduct a massive door-to-door campaign across the state and organise meetings in every village and municipal ward to discuss a chargesheet against the Banerjee government to be released by the party.
BJP workers will also distribute a “khobh patra” (letter of anguish) which the people would sign, besides airing their grievances through five technological mediums, including a missed call number and WhatsApp.
During the day, Shah will inaugurate the Special Composite Group Complex of National Security Guard (NSG) at Rajarhat in the north eastern fringes of the city, hold closed-door meetings with the state BJP leadership along with Nadda, and visit the famous Kalighat temple.