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Shah’s virtual rally faces digital challenge

Bengal BJP in a fix as Cyclone Amphan played havoc with telecom and power infrastructure
Amit Shah

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 05.06.20, 09:10 PM

The Bengal BJP is busy preparing to make Union home minister Amit Shah’s first virtual rally that will be streamed live through various digital platforms on June 9 a success as the party has set itself a target of reaching out to maximum number of people.

“We want to create an impact in Bengal politics with Amit-ji’s rally and that can happen only with an astronomical audience count,” said a state BJP leader.

He, however, added that meeting the target was going to be easier said than done as the reach of Shah would critically depend on smart phones and Internet connectivity.

The BJP divides the state into five different zones under which there are 39 organisational districts. “As of now, our plan is to make sure that at least 10 lakh people listen to Shah,” said a source.

According to a BJP leader, the challenges facing them while preparing for the virtual rally are as unprecedented as the event itself. “A worker can be taken by a bus or a truck hundreds of miles away to attend a rally… But here, it is about Internet connectivity and availability of a smart phone,” a state leader said.

Internet connectivity still remains an issue in several parts of Bengal after Cyclone Amphan played havoc with the telecom and power infrastructure. “In remote areas, we will have to depend on local television channels for which we will need the support of cable networks there. There is every possibility that Trinamul leaders will try to play spoilsport,” said a source.

The state BJP prepared a list of 1,800 people, including old and new state office-bearers, district presidents and observers, of whom 1,200 will be shortlisted and sent direct link of the rally. Those with the link would be able to interact with Shah, a leader said.

For all others, the party leaders are running an intensive campaign through various social media platforms so that they log into particular sites and listen to Shah live.

“We have asked the workers at the grassroots to form WhatsApp groups so that we can ensure involvement of all of them,” said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

“In the last one year, Amit Shah has introduced some historic bills in Parliament. There is excitement among the people of Bengal about what he says,” he added.

The women’s wing of the party has come up with another plan to ensure maximum involvement of its members. Agnimitra Paul, who recently took charge as the chief of the state Mahila Morcha, held a meeting on Friday to discuss the June 8 event.

“One woman who has a smartphone and Internet will bring together others who don’t enjoy these facilities. All of them will together listen to the address maintaining social distance,” she said.

In his speech, sources said, Shah would target the gross mismanagement of the fight against Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan by the Trinamul Congress government. He will also touch upon Mamata Banerjee’s role in protests against the new citizenship matrix of the Union government.

“We have already started building up on the narrative that Banerjee is against Hindus and the refugees. Shah’s criticism of her stand against the Citizenship Amendment Act will help us convince the people about it,” a source in the BJP said.

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