Hoping to send a strong message to the ruling party in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly bypolls on two seats here, BJP national president Amit Shah arrived in Kolkata Saturday. In his two-day visit, his first here since taking charge as party chief, Shah will address the state committee members at BJP headquarters on Sunday and discuss the electoral strategy for the bypolls scheduled for September 13.
Later in the day, Shah will hold a public meeting in Bow Bazaar area in support of party’s Chowringhee Assembly seat candidate, Ritesh Tiwari.
Post the meetings, he will leave for Ranchi.
The BJP’s state unit expects Shah, who has taken the charge of Bengal after a turnaround performance for the party in UP during the LS polls, to help it consolidate on the gains recorded in Bengal as well.
Although BJP won only two Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, its vote share rose to 16.8 per cent from the last parliamentary elections. And Shah is expected to capitalise on that.
“He (Shah) has accepted Bengal as a challenge. (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee had said in a public meeting that we would not get even five seats here in 2016 Assembly elections. We have taken it seriously. The party has started working at all levels to expand our base here. And Amitji will chalk out the strategy for us,” a state committee member of the BJP said.
Even Shah had, during his recent visit to Kerala, made it clear that Bengal is on his radar where he hopes BJP will emerge as a viable option for the voters in the state polity.
On Saturday, attending Shah’s preliminary state committee meeting, BJP national general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal hinted at the aspects Shah would undertake when he chalks out the electoral plans for the state unit.
“The international border with Bangladesh is deliberately kept porous by the TMC government to increase its vote bank. The infiltrators are given shelter here. However, a nationalist party like the BJP will not accept this,” he said.
“We will not allow the state to turn into a state of infiltrators. We would do everything possible under the democratic framework to stop infiltration,” he added.
Referring to the repeated attacks on BJP workers, which the party claims were “state-sponsored”, Ram Lal directed workers to be “strong” and “fight” such attacks on them.