Amit Shah to Challenge Mamata Banerjee With Kolkata Rally Today as 'Bengal NRC' Takes 2019 Centre Stage
Amit Shah, who has been embroiled in a heated war of words with Banerjee ever since the National Register of Citizen final draft was released in Assam, will address a massive political gathering on Kolkata’s Mayo Road on Saturday.
Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah is expected to rake up the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) issue during his speech here on Saturday. This will be Shah's fifth visit to West Bengal in the last one year as the party attempts to wrest nearly half the seats from Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Shah, who has been embroiled in a heated war of words with Banerjee ever since the National Register of Citizen final draft was released in Assam, will address a massive political gathering that has been organised by the BJP’s youth wing under the banner of ‘Yuva Samabesh’ on Kolkata’s Mayo Road.
Shah’s speech is likely to run on the same lines as his other addresses since the NRC draft came out on July 31 during which he has accused the opposition parties of playing vote bank politics on an issue that has “national security implications”.
He raised the issue in poll-bound Rajasthan and also during a News18 event on Tuesday, where he said that “40 lakh infiltrators have entered our country illegally” and said that they will be deported if they can’t prove their citizenship.
The BJP chief has often singled out Banerjee for attack on the NRC issue as she has been the most vocal critic of the Centre’s implementation of the Supreme Court monitored exercise, saying that “not only Muslims, Hindus have been excluded” from the draft too and Bengalis in particular have been targeted.
In the run-up to Shah’s rally, BJP leaders in the state have given clear indications that they will make the alleged presence of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants a poll issue and seek an Assam-like NRC there.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters that there could be over one crore illegal immigrants in West Bengal and suggest that NRC should be adopted in all border states to identify them.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh had earlier said that NRC will be published, on the lines of the one in Assam, if the saffron party was voted to power in the state.
After making inroads in the northeast, Shah has set an ambitious target for the party in Bengal for the Lok Sabha election, asking the party cadre to ensure 22 out of the 42 seats.
He has made regular visits since 2017. He visited Bengal on April 25 and then in September 11 last year. He also visited Bengal on June 27 and Saturday’s visit would be his second in less than 50 days.
According to party sources, Shah will land at Kolkata’s NSCB International Airport around 9 am and he will go to Port Trust Guest House. From there he will go to Mayo Road to deliver his speech around noon. He will take a flight back to Delhi at night.
Beside the NRC issue, Shah is likely to talk about Centre’s schemes for the poor and how they will work if voted to power. Since it’s a youth wing event, he is also likely to urge youths to join hands with the BJP.
The Kolkata police after delaying giving its nod for the rally has reportedly turned down BJP’s request to use drones and restricted the use of walkie-talkie. The BJP had made the requests to ensure better coordination in wake of the tent collapse incident at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally on July 16 when 90 people got injured.
A large number of policemen will be deployed to maintain the law and order situation on Saturday. CCTV cameras have been installed in and around venue to keep a close watch in the area and giant screens have been installed inside.
The BJP has given a contract to set up pandals to a Ranchi-based event management group
Speaking to News18 over telephone from Ranchi, company founder Kunal Ajwani said extra safety measures are being taken while setting up the pandal, which will be around 5000 sq ft covered area. ‘There will be 30 big screens and the stage will be eight feet tall,” he said.
“Most of the items we sent it from Ranchi and all the iron bars, nuts and bolts are new. We have sent two drones but we will use that only after the state BJP get permission from the Kolkata Police,” he said.
The BJP’s state unit has trained nearly 500 volunteers to manage the crowd and special buses have been arranged to bring party workers from other districts to make the rally a success. Some people have already started coming to Kolkata from various places and were put up at several places in and around the city.
On Friday, a central BJP delegation comprising national general secretaries Kailash Vijayvargiya and P Murlidhar Rao visited the venue to examine the safety measures and other arrangements made for the event.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “The event will be a successful one. We are expecting lakhs of people from all over the state.”
The TMC, meanwhile, has chosen the date to observe a “Dhikkar Diwas” on the NRC issue. TMC’s Arjun Singh said, “It (Shah’s rally) will be a flop show as people don’t trust anyone in BJP including its state party president Dilip Ghosh.”
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