New Delhi: Beginning this April, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will spend at least three days every month in West Bengal, which goes to the polls early next year.
State BJP leaders say as the elections come closer, the former party chief could step up his involvement to eight days every month.
Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains the BJP’s campaigner-in-chief, Shah’s plan signals his intent to continue to lead the party from the front, notwithstanding his increased responsibilities as Union Home Minister. Under Shah’s leadership, BJP has gained a foothold in the eastern state to emerge as the principal opposition party to the Trinamool Congress, winning 18 Lok Sabha seats to the ruling party’s 22, with the Congress and the Left relegated to the political margins.
“Amit Shahji assured us that he will give time to West Bengal the way he has been doing. Party workers expressed happiness over the fact that he has played a crucial role in strengthening the unit,” Dilip Ghosh, the West Bengal BJP president, told ThePrint.
“He also assured the functionaries that he will spend three days for the state every month, and later on it will be increased to eight days to ensure the party does its best in snatching power from Mamata Banerjee.”
Shah’s strategy for Bengal
After losing a string of assembly elections, the latest being Delhi, the BJP has shifted its attention to Bengal, which is a priority state for it. And unlike Delhi, where the state unit began the campaign late, the BJP has decided to get an early start in laying the groundwork for 2021.
The first chance for the BJP to try and weaken Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress’ grip on the state will come in the form of the municipal elections later this year, before the assembly polls next year.
On Sunday, Shah held marathon meetings and addressed party workers in Bengal. He also addressed a public meeting organised by the state unit to felicitate him for passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Parliament.
Shah also launched an outreach programme for the BJP, titled ‘Aar noi annay (no more injustice)’, aimed at countering Mamata’s somewhat-successful ‘Didi ke bolo (talk to Didi)’ helpline. He also announced a phone number that party supporters can call to join the campaign.