Against the backdrop of West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government escalating its confrontation with the centre and even denying use of a venue for his programme, BJP President Amit Shah arrives here on Monday on a three-day visit hoping to give a push to his party’s big political ambitions in the state.
Shah, who begins his tour by paying tributes to Swami Vivekananda at his north Kolkata house, is slated to meet party leaders, intellectuals, victims of alleged political violence and interact with the media during his latest tryst with Bengal.
Unlike his last visit in April when he started his booth level public interaction programme from north Bengal’s Naxalbari – the birthplace of the Maoist movement in the country half a century ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President would be limiting his engagements this time to Kolkata and its adjoining areas.
The trip takes place amid a controversy over the state government’s refusal to direct the universities to view Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s centenary celebration and the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous Chicago speech.
In the recent past, the Banerjee regime and the Narendra Modi-led NDA government have also crossed swords over central directives on Independence Day and Teachers Day celebrations, with the state refusing to comply with them.
Besides, the BJP has cried fowl over the authorities denying use of the Netaji Indoor Stadium for Shah’s programme on the plea that the facility was already booked. Shah himself threatened to move court on the issue.
Shah would attend a day long party leaders’ meeting in the central government run Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) auditorium on Monday and interact with party workers from different districts, who have allegedly been victims of political violence unleashed by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress the next day, the party said.
“There would be around 30 families from different districts who have suffered the wrath of the Trinamool activists and goons solely for supporting BJP. Shah would listen to their grievances,” state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu told IANS.
The BJP chief would wrap up his programme on Tuesday with a meeting with the intellectuals at the same venue.
Basu said the denial of the indoor stadium for Shah’s programme has upset his party’s plans, as they could now accommodate less number of people.
On Wednesday, Shah would hold a press conference at the Press Club ahead of his meeting with members of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce at a five star hotel in central Kolkata.
Shah’s programme is being seen as part of the BJP’s efforts to strengthen the party organisation in a state where it has been traditionally weak, but has shown signs of emerging as a formidable force in the near future, with opposition Left Front and Congress continuing to lose ground in recent electoral contests.