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Modi to lend heft to BJP's campaign with 3rd rally in a week

Press Trust of India  |  Churabhandar (WB) 

Narendra Modi will address yet another public rally in on Friday, giving a fresh thrust to the BJP's campaign blitzkrieg ahead of the polls amid escalating tensions with

The rally, Modi's third in the state in a week, comes three days after Banerjee called off her sit-in protest against "politically motivated" attempts by the CBI to question in the Saradha chit fund scam case in which several top leaders are allegedly involved.

Dramatically raising the stakes for the polls, Banerjee became a rallying point for 23 anti- parties who threw their weight behind her as she sat on dharna for 46 hours against the Modi government's attempts to "stifle the spirit of Constitution and federalism".

Modi, according to sources, will use the platform in district, close to border, to give a "befitting" reply to Banerjee's accusations while trying to galvanise the party cadre for the elections.

"Apart from message to party cadre, we are hopeful that Modiji would also give a befitting reply to the TMC's unconstitutional dharna," a senior said.

The BJP had won just two of the state's 42 seats in the last polls, but party has set an ambitious target of 23 this time.

Having achieved an almost impossible feat of winning with its allies 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in in 2014 and 31 of the 40 in Bihar, the general feeling in the party is that repeating the performance will be a daunting task.

The saffron party is, therefore, making determined efforts to claim greater political space in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala, where it has been a marginal player. The three states together account for 83 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Modi, while addressing a rally in Durgapur last week, had branded the as "extortionist" which was run by a "corrupt syndicate", and called for its ouster.

Banerjee, who has emerged as an important cog in the opposition's pursuit to forge a broad-based anti-BJP coalition for the polls, had mustered a galaxy of top leaders including TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu, his counterpart H D Kumaraswamy, and Congress's at her rally in Kolkata last month.

and former Akhilesh Yadav, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, DMK chief M K Stalin, and fire-spitting MLA Jignesh Mevani were also in attendance.

Given the demography of the rally venue close to the border with significant presence of refugees from the neighbouring country, Modi is also likely to touch upon the Citizenship (amendment) Bill that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan, and who fled religious persecution.

Besides Jalpaiguri, quite a large number of Bangladeshi refugees have made 24 Parganas districts and Malda their home.

The Bill that is facing stiff opposition from Banerjee and most opposition parties, says state BJP Dilip Ghosh, will be a major poll plank for the saffron party in the Lok Sabha elections.

Like in case of other top leaders of the BJP, the party faced difficulty in finding a venue for Modi's rally in

After its failure to secure permission for the event at government college and a ground adjoining the complex, it was forced to organise it on farm land rented by the party some 20 odd kms away from Jalpaiguri town.

BJP's alleged that local leaders were warning bus operators against allowing their vehicles to carry saffron party supporters to the rally ground.

"They (TMC workers) are also holding demonstrations and dharnas against the rally and keeping a watch on people who are likely to attend the rally (in order to threaten them))," Banerjee claimed.

TMC MLA Sourav Chakraborty, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless".

The BJP has virtually bombarded before the announcement of the elections with several of its top leaders including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh and the party's "Hindutva" mascot Yogi Adityanath and former chief minister holding rallies.

In an apparent reflection of soaring tension between the BJP and TMC, a 'chopper politics' is also being played out.

The BJP has alleged that Shah, Smriti Irani, Adityanath, Chouhan and Arjun Munda, a former chief minister of Jharkhand, are among those who were denied permission to land their helicopters for addressing rallies.

Some of them cancelled the events while others decided to travel by road to reach the venue.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 07 2019. 17:35 IST