|Modi campaigns in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, on Friday; Rajnath Singh addresses a rally in Naihati. (PTI and Bibhas Lodh)
Calcutta, May 2: The BJP has lined up five campaign rallies to be addressed by Narendra Modi in Calcutta North, Asansol, Krishnagar, Barasat and Bankura, Lok Sabha constituencies where the party senses “good electoral prospects” at a time it is “focusing” on Bengal like never before.
“We are focusing on Bengal. Modiji will campaign in the state before the last two poll phases because we are sensing that the prospects of our candidates (for the five seats) are bright,” said Siddharth Nath Singh, the BJP’s central observer for Bengal, over phone from Delhi. He said Modi would address five rallies on May 4 and 7.
BJP sources said the campaign meetings by Modi, who has addressed three rallies in Bengal in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, would “boost” the state unit as the party’s candidate for Prime Minister had “strongly criticised” Mamata Banerjee at recent public meetings in the state.
“The more Modiji speaks against Mamata, the better for us in the polls,” a state BJP vice-president said today.
At a rally in Serampore on April 27, Modi had promised “sternest action” against those behind the Saradha scandal if his party came to power and asked why one of Mamata’s paintings had sold for Rs 1.80 crore, an issue the Opposition in Bengal has latched on to. State BJP president Rahul Sinha had later clarified that Modi had meant a cumulative figure when he said “Rs 1.80 crore”, not the price of one painting.
On May 4, the Gujarat chief minister will address two meetings in Asansol and Bankura, where polls will be held on May 7.
On May 7, Modi will address three rallies in north Calcutta, Krishnagar (Nadia) and Barasat (North 24-Parganas), where elections will be held on May 12.
The first of Modi’s three rallies in Bengal was held at the Brigade Parade Grounds on February 5. It was followed by a rally in Siliguri on April 10 in support of the BJP nominee for Darjeeling, S.S. Ahluwalia. The prime ministerial candidate campaigned for Bappi Lahiri in Serampore on April 27.
State BJP leaders said they were “banking on” Modi’s campaign rallies before the last two election phases.
“We are optimistic about the party’s victory in Krishnagar, where lawyer Satyabrata Mukherjee is contesting,” a state BJP general secretary said.
Mukherjee, 81, said he was happy that Modi would campaign for him. “Modiji’s public rally in Krishnagar town will help me counter my Trinamul opponent,” he said.
Singer Babul Supriyo, the BJP nominee for the Asansol seat, is equally enthusiastic about the prime ministerial candidate’s rally. “I am happy that Modiji has agreed to campaign for me,” he said over phone from Asansol.
A BJP leader “fine-tuning” Modi’s speech in Asansol said the “assault” on Supriyo by Trinamul activists and the police’s move to book the BJP candidate under the Arms Act and for allegedly blocking a highway would “feature prominently” in the prime ministerial candidate’s speech.
The BJP sources said the prospects of the Barasat nominee, magician P.C. Sorcar Jr, also appeared bright. “We will give a tough fight to Trinamul candidate Kakali Ghosh Dastidar in Barasat and this is why Modiji will hold a rally there,” a BJP leader said.
In Bankura, the BJP’s Subhas Sarkar, a doctor, is in the fray against Trinamul’s Moon Moon Sen and CPM veteran Basudeb Acharia.