Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Tuesday launched his party’s expansion drive in five states from West Bengal’s Naxalbari village, declaring development and progress will start from the place where the left-wing extremism had its origins in the late 1960s.
Aiming to expand his party’s footprint ahead of the 2019 general elections, Shah met BJP workers and said the Trinamool Congress will not be able to stop Narendra Modi’s chariot and the ‘lotus will bloom’ in Bengal.
Union Minister Smriti Irani on Monday said that by starting his drive from booth number 93 at Naxalbari, Shah will give a message of solidarity to BJP workers, who have ‘suffered’ violence there.
The BJP has accused the ruling TMC of unleashing violence on its workers in the state.
Shah’s visit to Naxalbari comes a day after the deadly attack by Naxals in Sukma in Chhattisgarh in which 25 CRPF men were killed.
West Bengal is among the five states where he will spend three-days each as he looks to strengthen the party in the states where it has been traditionally weak, with an eye on the next Lok Sabha polls. Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the other states that will be covered by Shah.
“The Naxals had started their violent activities here at Naxalbari and now, development and progress will start from here,” Shah said at a meeting of BJP workers at Naxalbari in Siliguri in north Bengal. “Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, Bengal will very soon be on the path of development.”
The BJP chief had lunch at the house of a tribal family before interacting with party workers.
Sitting on the floor of Raju Mahali’s house at Dakkhin Katiajote village in Naxalbari, he had a meal of rice, moong dal, potol (a kind of gourd) fry, squash curry, salad and papad, served on a banana leaf.
Shah said he would tour five states in 15 days.
“TMC may think they can stop Modiji’s chariot, but they cannot stop it. The more they try to stop us, the more the lotus will bloom here,” Shah said.
“In 2019 (Lok Sabha polls), the BJP will get the maximum number of seats in West Bengal. The people of the country will witness it,” claimed Shah.
“The TMC is unleashing violence but in the end, the BJP’s victory in Bengal is certain. No one can stop it,” he added.
“Bengal, which was once at the forefront of development, now lags behind. Unemployment is high and the TMC government is following the policy of appeasement (of minorities),” alleged Shah.
Talking about Modi’s ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ slogan, he said development was reaching ‘every nook and corner’ of the country, but the TMC government was ‘not allowing’ it to happen in Bengal.
The BJP president will also take the prime minister’s message of ‘development for all’ to a place where a violent movement to uproot Indian state had started, she said.
Besides Shah, top party leaders, including almost every Union minister, have been roped in to drive the campaign at booth-level to boost the organisation's prospects.
IMAGE: BJP president Amit Shah during his Booth Sampark programme at Dakkhin Katiajote village in Naxalbari, West Bengal on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI Photo