Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Saturday said the party would uproot the ruling Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal. Shah was addressing a huge public rally at Mayo Road organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yava Morcha.
“We are here to uproot Mamata,” Shah said at the rally, adding, “We are not against West Bengal, but we are definitely against Mamata Banerjee. I am here to protest against the TMC.”
Asserting that the saffron party was not anti-Bengal, the BJP president said, “How can BJP be anti-Bangla when BJP founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee himself was a Bengali. We are not Bangla virodhi, but Mamata virodhi.”
The BJP won only two of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the 2014 general elections hopes to substantially increase its tally in 2019.
Amit Shah’s rally which comes less than a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Midnapore.
Earlier in the day, Shah arrived in arrived in Kolkata to a musical welcome and noisy protests ahead with the Kolkata airport transforming into a scene of competition between the saffron workers and ruling Trinamool Congress supporters.
While BJP workers staged a ‘kirtan’ (Bengali devotional song), complete with khol (two sided drums) and kartals in traditional style, to welcome their leader, Trinamool Congress workers, who wore masks of Shah, carried placards criticising the NRC exercise in Assam.
Ahead of Shah’s arrival, BJP leaders covered either side of Mayo Road with reams of cloth so that the Trinamool Congress party flags and banners of Mamata Banerjee fixed on both flanks don’t remain visible to the crowd at the venue.
Posters asking the BJP to “leave Bengal” were seen in and around the venue of the rally in the central part of the city, prompting the BJP to alleged that the placards with messages – “BJP, leave Bengal” and “anti-Bengal BJP go back” – were put up by Trinamool Congress (TMC) cadres, a charge denied by the ruling party.
The route to the venue of the rally was dotted with cutouts of Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, similar to what played out during Modi’s visit to Midnapore last month.
In November 2014, Shah had famously said that the countdown for the end of the ‘corrupt’ Trinamool Congress regime in West Bengal has begun and vowed to uproot the party from the state. But in the 2016 assembly elections, the TMC retained power winning 211 seats in the 295-member assembly while the BJP won only three seats.