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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Prime Minister Modi to launch BJP's poll campaign with 3 back-to-back rallies in Bengal from Friday

The Modi juggernaut rolls out in the backdrop of Sandeshkhali with rallies in Arambagh on Friday and Nadia’s Krishnagar the day after; PM will return to the state for a third public meeting in Barasat on March 6

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 29.02.24, 04:56 PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File picture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi turns to Bengal once again as he addresses back to back rallies spread over six days beginning from Friday, that will mark the launch of BJP’s offensive ahead of the impending 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Modi will address rallies in Arambagh on Friday and Nadia’s Krishnagar the day after. The prime minister will return to Bengal for a third public meeting which will be in Barasat on March 6.

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On Friday, Modi’s first stop will be at the Durgapur helipad, from where he will head to neighbouring Jharkhand’s Sindri. Later in the day, Modi will be at Hooghly’s Arambagh where he will inaugurate a number of projects, lay foundation stones and then address a public rally.

Modi will make a stopover at the Raj Bhawan for the night. On Saturday he will take a chopper to Krishnagar where he will address another public meeting preceded by inauguration of projects.

The itinerary for his third trip to Bengal on March 6 is yet to be released.

The full bench of the Election Commission of India will be in Bengal next week to take stock of the situation before the poll bugle is sounded.

The prime minister’s multiple visits this time is in the backdrop of the Sandeshkhali episode, the mastermind of which Shahjahan Sheikh was arrested on Thursday by the state police. Among other crimes, Shahjahan is accused of committing crimes against women.

The prime minister is expected to attack the Mamata Banerjee government raising the Sandeshkhali issue which has been in the limelight for nearly two months.

The venues of all the three meetings of Modi are in Lok Sabha constituencies held by women belonging to the ruling party in Bengal, the Trinamul - Aparupa Poddar in Arambagh and Kakali Ghosh Dastidar in Barasat. The Lok Sabha MP for Krishnagar was the Trinamul’s Mahua Maitra, who was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December last.

“Hon’ble PM’s visit to Bengal is to Arambagh, Barasat, & Krishnagar- 3 constituencies whose lady MPs have taken him head on in parliament. We welcome you PM sahib. Atithi devo bhava,” Moitra had tweeted on Wednesday.

In the run up to the state Assembly polls in 2021, Modi had addressed around 23 rallies in 14 days before a rise in the Covid cases dampened his campaign plans. The BJP ended far short of the majority figure to form the government in Bengal. Since then the prime minister has largely stayed away from Calcutta, though the chief minister Mamata Banerjee met him a number of times in Delhi to secure release of funds for the state.

The last time that Modi was in Bengal was soon after the polls had ended in May 2021. That visit erupted into a tug-of-war between the Centre and state, with the then chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay caught in between. Bandyopadhyay had left along with chief minister Mamata Banerjee after a courtesy call on the prime minister and did not stay back for the review meeting following the cyclone Yaas. Bandyopadhyay was served a show-cause notice and retired soon after. In December 2022, Modi was scheduled to visit Calcutta to inaugurate a Vande Bharat train but the trip had to be cancelled following the death of his mother.

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