Amit Shah’s December rath yatra in Bengal to be a heady mix of religion, politics

First Published 23, Oct 2018, 7:08 PM IST
amit shah december rath yatra bengal religion politics tarapith gangasagar
Highlights

Amit Shah will kickstart the campaign from Tarapith, a place of immense religious significance for Goddess Kali-worshipping Bengalis. This is arguably to address the ruling TMC's propaganda that the BJP is a ‘north Indian’ and ‘anti- Bengali’ party.

Kolkata/New Delhi: The much-anticipated rath yatra by BJP, arguably the second strongest political party in Bengal, has now been deferred by two days due to the preoccupation of BJP’s central leadership with the Assembly elections in five states.

  • Rally 1: December 5
  • Rally 2: December 7
  • Rally 3: December 9

The rath yatra, which was supposed to have been led by none less than party president Amit Shah, will now kick off on December 5 instead of December 3. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Telangana and Chhatisgarh are set to go to the polls between November 12 and December 7. This unsettled the plan of the rath yatra — a novelty in Bengal politics.

The last time Bengal had witnessed a political rath enter the state was when then firebrand BJP leader LK Advani was spearheading the Ram Janambhoomi movement.

3 rath routes

There will be three rath routes cutting across 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state with three chariots covering 14 seats each. The campaign will be kickstarted by Amit Shah from Tarapith, a place of immense religious significance. Bengalis worship Goddess Kali and many say the choice of Tarapith is a careful one, keeping the sensibilities of Bengalis in mind. All the more so when the ruling TMC has been trying to project the BJP as a ‘north Indian’ and ‘anti- Bengali’ party for its stance in Assam over the National Register of Citizen (NRC) where a lot of Bengalis have been left identity-less.

The second and third rallies will start from the Cooch Behar district in the northern part of Bengal and Gangasagar in the absolute south on December 7 and 9 respectively.

Amit Shah will be the crowd puller in all the three rallies where BJP is expected to showcase its brand of Hindutva. Sources in the Bengal unit of BJP told MyNation that they have communicated to the central leadership that issues concerning illegal immigration from Bangladesh, abrupt change of demography in border states due to that and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s pro-Muslim public persona need to be raised during the rallies.

Finale in Kolkata

At the conclusion of this massive show of strength, BJP will conduct a massive rally in Kolkata. They have sought the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as their chief guest but his attendance is not yet confirmed.

Since the panchayat election where the BJP has made considerable inroads, particularly in districts like Purulia, the BJP president feels there’s room for his party to win many seats in the upcoming 2019 general election.

Of late, many factions of Maoists that had gone dormant since the death of Kishenji are believed to be regrouping to launch an anti-TMC front. That could be a kind of a third political front in 2019.

There are certain seats the BJP has identified where it can put up a good fight against the TMC. This rath yatra is a precursor to that fight.

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