Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a virtual rally in West Bengal on 22 October, which will be the sixth day (Shasthi) of the Durga Puja festival that marks the beginning of the celebrations.
The state unit of the BJP has requested the PM to address the people of Bengal to “counter” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “lies” about the central government and the party, said senior BJP leaders.
Before the PM’s rally, Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit Siliguri in North Bengal on 17 October to hold a workers’ meeting for the North Bengal zone.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the campaign for 2021 assembly elections will kick off with PM Modi’s address, which will be followed by a mass rally by him after Durga Puja.
This indicates the BJP will fight the assembly elections with Modi as its face. The party is yet to zero in on a chief ministerial candidate.
Senior party leaders also reiterated the Bengal election would be fought in the name of Modi and not any local face.
They also said Shah will be leading the charge of BJP’s battle for Bengal. He is also likely to come to Kolkata after the puja and hold a series of meetings with the state units, Ghosh said.
Ghosh told ThePrint the PM’s address has become essential because Mamata Banerjee is trying to “confuse voters and spread lies” about the initiatives taken by the central government.
“(BJP national president J.P.) Nadda ji already held a virtual rally in Bengal. But we requested PM Modi to address people in the state on the day of Durga Shasthi,” he added.
Bengal believes in ‘Banga Janani’, says Trinamool
Hinting at the BJP’s political programmes and rallies, Banerjee said Monday the BJP was “the biggest pandemic” she had ever seen in her life.
“We are fighting against Covid-19 pandemic. But let me tell you, BJP is the biggest pandemic I have ever seen in my life. They are ruthless. They can go to any extent to grab power in the state. They do not even care if all of you die. They just want to capture Bengal. Rest all are gimmicks,” she said at a programme.
Her cabinet colleague Firhad Hakim went a step further and said Bengal believes in two mothers — Biswa Janani and Banga Janani.
“Biswa Janani is Maa Durga and Banga Janani is our didi (Banerjee). She has been guarding the state from everything. Anyone can come from Uttar Pradesh or Gujarat, it will not help,” he added.
‘BJP still struggles to establish its Bengali DNA’
With the party’s state unit requesting Modi and Shah to hold rallies and meetings in Bengal, it appears the BJP is primarily banking on ‘Modi magic’ to build momentum for the state elections.
Political analyst and professor Biswanath Chakraborti said the BJP has been holding rallies and political programmes across districts for almost over a month now, but it needs Modi to counter Mamata.
Chakraborti, however, said Modi and Shah need to instill confidence in the voters and convince them about the BJP’s Bengali roots.
“BJP’s primary challenge in Bengal is to establish it as a part of Bengali society. Even as Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress build their campaign against BJP by calling them outsiders, BJP still struggles to establish its Bengali DNA,” he added.
“People see non-Bengali leaders coming from several states to camp here, but they are still looking for a Bengali face, who stands up against Mamata. BJP lacks that,” he said.