From mega celebrations on Rath Yatra and Janmashtami to a steady stream of visits by top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the BJP and other saffron organisations have been making a push to increase their presence in West Bengal ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
On July 14 (Rath Yatra) and September 2 (Janmashtami), the state will see hundreds of rallies and programmes, courtesy of organisations such as the RSS and VHP. “Rath Yatra and Janmashtami are our festivals. The BJP is not organising any programmes. But the thousands of programmes organised by religious and social organisations will see BJP leaders and workers participating,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha told The Indian Express.
“It is true that our national leaders including Modiji and Amit Shahji are dropping in every month, holding public rallies and organisational meetings. This shows the seriousness about West Bengal. In the Purulia rally, Amit Shah ji made our Bengal roadmap clear. The frequent visits have also made it clear to the people of Bengal that rumours spread by parties like CPM and Congress about BJP and TMC having an understanding have no value,” said Sinha.
Speaking to The Indian Express, VHP organising secretary Sachindranath Sinha said the party will hold over 700 rallies during Janmashtami. “We have about 1,000 units in south Bengal, all of which will participate in Janmashtami celebrations. Moreover, 700 rallies will take place — some with tableaus and some with pictures of Lord Krishna,” he said.
Aside from rallies, organisations are also planning to conduct discussions and religious discourses on Krishna, drawing competition and other such events. “This year, Janmashtami will be celebrated on a much larger scale so that it becomes a social celebration,” said Sinha.
Meanwhile, Modi is scheduled to hold a rally in West Midnapore on July 16, which will be followed by a public meeting in August where BJP national president Amit Shah will address the gathering. Shah had recently made a two-day visit to Bengal, during which he had spoken at a public rally in Purulia.
“After Narendra Modi’s rally, Shah will speak in our Yuva Morcha rally in early August. Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Bengal at the end of August and speak in a rally. After the Durga Pujas, Modi will once against visit Bengal and speak in a public rally. Modi ji is expected to hold as many as five public rallies by the end of this year in Bengal. This shows the special emphasis our party stalwarts in Delhi are giving to Bengal. Likewise, the Bengal leadership have been asked to pull up their socks and strengthen the organisation,” said a senior BJP leader.
Since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s vote share has been rising in Bengal, and it has emerged as the main opposition. However, this increased vote share has not so far reflected in the number of seats the party has won. Presently, the BJP has only three MLAs in the Assembly and two MPs in Lok Sabha from the state.