With four more rounds to go in the eight-phase assembly elections in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party has punched up its canvassing strategy, especially in the old Bengal Presidency area, including 40 seats in and around Kolkata. The BJP will launch a door-to-door campaign between 9am and 11am across the seats that go to polls in the remaining phases. Party leaders including Suvendu Adhikari, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Amit Malviya, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Dilip Ghosh, Mukul Roy, Dharmendra Pradhan and others will go from house to house, once again trying to tell the people what their version of Lokkho Sonar Bangla (Aiming for a prosperous Bengal) is and how Asol Poriborton (Real change) is knocking on the state’s door.
The BJP is making a big push to seize the reins of Bengal from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which has been in power in the state since 2011. The saffron party’s star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah, have accused the TMC of institutionalised corruption, Muslim appeasement, heavy-handed governance, and neglecting development, among other things. The TMC has been banking on the chief minister’s popularity, attempts to portray the BJP leaders as outsiders, and an emphasis on Bengali nationalism.
The BJP will be launching another drive, particularly in the 40 seats in and around Kolkata. This is being called “Potho Sabha”, literally translating to “street-corner meetings”. These sessions will be held in residential complexes, housing societies, and community halls, etc, in the evenings. The idea is directly reaching out to the voters and two-way communication. In these 45-minute meetings about 500 people or more will gather and discuss what the saffron party can bring to the table if brought to power in the state. Such meetings will also involve the topmost leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Community-specific meetings and meetings with specific groups like doctors, artistes, musicians, etc, will also be a part of this outreach.
Home minister Amit Shah will be launching this series of meetings in Kolkata on Tuesday evening. He will participate in two such street-corner meetings in Dum Dum and Baranagar. Sources say the BJP is planning to hold around two thousand such street corner meetings.
The initiative is on the lines of the BJP’s “Chai pe charcha” (Conversations over tea) events during the 2014 Lok Sabha election that met with tremendous success. The party’s state leaders have been holding small gatherings called “Chai chakra” (Get-together over tea) this time in Bengal which has also been very popular amongst the people.
This apart, roadshows and rallies will be held by party leaders as planned.
Voting in the state will now take place on April 17, 22, 26 and 29, before counting on May 2.
In an assembly of 294 seats spread across 23 districts, in the four rounds held so far, 135 seats have already seen voting, and 159 still remain.