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National BJP leaders bound for Bengal

Calcutta, Aug. 6: The Bengal BJP today rolled out a roster of events Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley will address over the next few months as part of the party’s expansion drive in the state in the run-up to the 2016 Assembly elections.

Union finance and defence minister Jaitley will visit Calcutta on August 24 for an interactive session with representatives from the world of art and culture, doctors and other professionals.

BJP national president Shah will attend the party’s state committee meeting in Siliguri on September 6 and 7. Ram Lal, the national general secretary (organisation), and Siddharth Nath Singh, the party’s minder for Bengal, will also be present at the meeting.

Bengal BJP president Rahul Sinha said this evening that Shah had agreed to address a rally in Calcutta on November 30.

“Jaitleyji will explain the stand of the party and the central government on various issues to a group of writers, advocates, doctors, teachers and other professionals. The party’s central leadership is keen on Bengal. We are exploring all avenues to make the BJP a formidable force ahead of the Assembly elections,” Sinha said.

The venue for Jaitley’s Calcutta meeting is yet to be decided.

Sources said the visits by the national BJP leaders would “boost the morale of party workers in Bengal”, where the BJP’s vote share has increased from 6.5 per cent to 16.8 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls. Apart from the Assembly elections in 2016, the BJP is focusing on polls to 82 civic bodies, including the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, next year.

“The (party’s) national president has assured us that the central leadership will extend all support to the state unit. He also said Bengal would feature prominently in his address to the BJP’s national council meeting in Delhi on August 9,” Sinha said.

A senior BJP leader said Shah would “frame guidelines” for party workers in Bengal.

Several national-level BJP leaders have visited Bengal since the Lok Sabha polls. Teams comprising central leaders had visited Bengal twice after party workers were allegedly assaulted in North 24-Parganas and a BJP activist was murdered in Birbhum.

BJP state president Sinha had recently said over 2 lakh people had joined the party as primary members since the Lok Sabha polls in May.

Apart from the two-day state committee meeting in September, Shah will address BJP workers at Siliguri’s Bagha Jatin Park, where Narendra Modi had held a campaign rally.