Amit Shah in Kolkata as BJP eyes gains after crucial TMC desertions

Shah and Nadda would visit West Bengal every month till the assembly elections are over, BJP’s state chief Dilip Ghosh has said.

Amit Shah
Union home minister Amit Shah waves at supporters after arriving in Kolkata | Photo: Twitter

BJP leader Amit Shah arrived in Kolkata on Saturday to take stock of the party’s affairs in West Bengal ahead of the upcoming state election, after the ruling Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress suffered a fresh bout of desertions at this crucial stage.

The visit of Shah, the Union home minister, comes a week after that of BJP chief JP Nadda, whose convoy was attacked in the state, giving rise to another political deadlock between the Centre and the State.

Speculations are rife that Suvendu Adhikari, the face of the Nandigram anti-farmland acquisition movement who gave up his cabinet portfolios and quit the TMC, may join the BJP during Shah’s visit along with a slew of disgruntled TMC leaders, including some MLAs.

TMC has been rocked by a series of desertions since Adhikari’s exit, with at least 10 of its leaders quitting by Friday, whom the TMC chief, Mamata Banerjee, has termed as “baggage” for the party and said it is good that rotten elements are leaving on their own.

Several of the disgruntled leaders are expected to join the saffron party at Shah’s public rally in Midnapore on Saturday. A jubilant state BJP vice president Arjun Singh has claimed around 10-12 MLAs, leaders from TMC and other parties will join the saffron party.

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The TMC on Friday suffered the loss of nine disgruntled leaders, which includes two MLAs — Barrackpore’s Silbhadra Dutta and Uttar Kanthi’s Banasree Maity. A day ago, two other MLAs — Suvendu Adhikari and Jitendra Tiwari — had sent their resignations, though Tiwari made an U-turn on Friday and claimed he’s back in the party. CPI(M) too felt the tremors of desertion as one of its MLAs, Tapasi Mondal (Haldia), quit the party.

Over the last few months, Dutta, once a Mukul Roy loyalist when the BJP leader was in TMC, has been vocal about his opposition to poll strategist Prashant Kishor inducted by TMC before the state polls and the way he was handling the party affairs.

On Friday evening, Mamata Banerjee told party leaders at an internal meeting at her residence not to be worried about the desertions by the traitors as “people of the state are with the TMC,” party sources said.

Shah and Nadda would visit West Bengal every month till the assembly elections are over, BJP’s state chief Dilip Ghosh has said.

Controversy over Tagore photo

Ahead of Shah’s visit to Bolpur in Birbhum district, hoardings with his picture above that of Rabindranath Tagore in the same frame caused an outrage on Friday in neighbouring Santiniketan, which is famous as the bard’s abode for long years.

A member of Tagore’s family called it “disgusting” and the Leftist students “sacrilege”. Supriyo Tagore, an ashramite of Santiniketan and a descendant of the famed Tagore family, said it was “Cheap and audacious on the part of a political party to put pictures of their leaders along with Rabindranath Tagore and shows the state of affairs in the country.” He said, “It is disgusting and deserves contempt.”

BJP leader Anupam Hazra, a picture of whom also figured in the same hoarding, alleged it was the handiwork of Trinamool Congress to embarrass the saffron party ahead of Shah’s visit.

(With inputs from agencies)