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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Amit Shah to kick off rath yatras in Bengal

Amit Shah to kick off rath yatras in Bengal

The BJP rallies will be held in Birbhum, Cooch Behar and Gangasagar on 5, 7 and 9, December, respectively

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah. File photo: MintPremium
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah. File photo: Mint

Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president will flag off rath yatras taken out from three different parts West Bengal by the state unit of the party with an eye on the elections to the Lok Sabha to be held in 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the concluding event.

The rallies will start from Birbhum, Cooch Behar and Gangasagar on 5, 7, and 9 December, respectively, according to state party leaders. “A final event has been planned at the Brigade parade grounds, once these rallies converge in Kolkata," said Sayantan Basu, the party’s state general secretary.

The Prime Minister is expected to address the event, Basu said.

“We have been asked to decorate tableaux depicting the central government’s policies and achievements," said Ramkrishna Rai, BJP Birbhum district president.

The tableau from Birbhum will stop at 10 places for public meetings. “We have arranged for two big and eight small public events," Rai said.

The other rallies will follow a similar routine.

Shah, during a visit to the state in June, asked state party leaders to arrange these rallies as a part of a public interaction initiative.

The BJP president set a steep target of winning at least half of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections.

Rath yatras have for long been an electoral tool for the BJP. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the incumbent chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, kicked off a similar rally from the state capital, Bhopal, on Sunday. Madhya Pradesh will go to polls next month.

However, the rath yatras in Bengal will be different, according to state party leaders. These rallies are more than just rath yatras, Basu said. “The aim is to reinstate democracy in the state. That will be the call of these rallies," he said.

“The moment these rallies are called rath yatras, their political ambit will shrink," said Biswanath Chakraborty, professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University and an independent election analyst.

The religious connotation of the word ‘rath’ will alienate minority voters who constitute around 30% of the state’s electorate, according to Chakraborty.

However, the three rallies will be kicked off from three popular temples, though party leaders have maintained that they will have no religious subtext.

Basu had previously said that the party is considering the launch of a dedicated campaign to woo Muslim voters.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his Assam counterpart, Sarbananda Sonowal, are also expected to attend these rallies.

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Published: 22 Oct 2018, 07:45 PM IST
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