The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP salve for rail wound

Realising that Eastern Railways’ proposed bifurcation has not gone down well with the people of Bengal, a host of key BJP central committee leaders, including all-India president Venkaiah Naidu, Union minister for information and broadcasting Sushma Swaraj, minister for parliamentary affairs Pramod Mahajan and general secretary Arun Jaitley will visit the city early next month.

Though state BJP functionaries claimed that the leaders would be here to attend a two-day zonal conference of party workers, beginning September 7, party insiders said the move is aimed at “clearing misgivings among people” about the proposed railway bifurcation and at the same time revamping the organisation for the panchayat elections, slated for early next year.

“Naidu will inaugurate the conference to be attended by over 400 party delegates from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bengal,” said state BJP president Asim Ghosh. The leaders would also meet eminent citizens, he added.

“This is our first attempt to revamp the organisation after the party drew a blank in the Assembly elections in May 2001,” he further said.

However, according party insiders, the state BJP leadership, fearing a dismal show in the coming panchayat elections, has roped in its key central committee functionaries to explain that the proposed bifurcation would not affect Bengal’s interest. “We must admit that not only the people but also our sympathisers and party workers resent the Eastern Railway bifurcation since they think this will affect Bengal’s interest,” said a key BJP functionary.

The BJP top brass, sources said, is also expected to meet Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to explore the possibility of forging an electoral alliance with her party for the panchayat elections.

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