BJP banking on Modi magic for Bengal turnaround
Traditionally considered weak in West Bengal, the BJP is heavily banking on its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi -- scheduled to address a rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds Wednesday -- for a turnaround in the state.
Coming only days after Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee launched her poll drive from the same venue, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too will kick-start its general elections campaign in the state and is expecting a crowd in excess of five lakh.
The party which historically has nothing much to show in terms of seats from the state, is hoping for a turnaround riding on the "Modi wave" coupled with the anti- incumbency factor against the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.
The party bagged a solitary seat in 1998 and doubled its tally in the next elections in 1999. However, in the last elections in 2009, the party managed only the Darjeeling constituency when Jaswant Singh -- backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which holds sway in the region -- came up trumps.
From hosting regular road shows to workers and supporters organising runs and walks sporting Modi masks, to online selling of seats, the BJP has been using novel ways to drum up support for the mega rally.
Besides using the social media platform, party workers have been distributing specially made "NaMo sweets" while a NaMo Jalrath vessel was launched to promote the event.
As the Gujarat chief minister had started off as a tea vendor, nearly 100 "NaMo tea stalls" have come up across West Bengal offering the brew to the common man at nominal rates.
It will be interesting to see if Modi, who so far has preferred attacking the Congress, especially its top leadership, will train his guns at Banerjee, who without taking names, accused him of pursuing "communal politics".
According to the state unit of the party, Modi might also raise the pitch for declassification of secret files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, something which a host of activists and a section of the nationalist leader's family has been demanding for long.
Beside Modi, party national president Rajnath Singh and other bigwigs are expected to address the rally which incidentally will be followed by a mass meeting by the Left Front at the same venue Sunday.
On the security front, the people concerned are working on a war footing to ensure foolproof security in view of bomb blasts during Modi's rally in Patna in October which claimed five lives.
While a strong Gujarat Police team and National Security Guard contingent are camping in the city supervising the arrangements, the city police too are on the job.
Watchtowers and CCTV cameras have been put up at strategic locations while armed personnel will be posted on high rise buildings to keep a hawk's eye on the proceedings.
(Posted on 04-02-2014)